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Attorney General Bailey Files Amicus Brief Supporting States’ Ability to Remove Prosecutors Who Fail to Enforce Laws

Home 9 Press Release 9 Attorney General Bailey Files Amicus Brief Supporting States’ Ability to Remove Prosecutors Who Fail to Enforce Laws

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In an effort to enforce the laws as written, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to affirm states’ authority to remove local prosecutors who refuse to put the law ahead of their personal politics. In an amicus brief filed in Warren v DeSantis, the attorneys general maintain that states have a right to defend their constitutions against local prosecutors who, by pledging not to enforce laws they dislike, essentially wield a veto power over lawfully enacted legislation.

“As Attorney General, I will always do everything in my power to protect Missourians, which includes ensuring prosecutors protect the public,” said Attorney General Bailey. “Prosecutors refusing to do their jobs has been an issue all over the country. I’m proud to join 14 other attorneys general in defending the authority of states to hold prosecutors accountable.”

Warren v DeSantis centers on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ removal of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, who “signed in his official capacity” a statement promising not to prosecute those who provide abortions in violation of Florida law.

Warren has appealed a lower court ruling rejecting his argument that the suspension violated the First Amendment.

The attorneys general argue otherwise, encouraging the appeals court to reject Warren’s claim of a First Amendment violation: “The official punishes the misconduct the speech proves, not the prosecutor’s speech itself,” the amicus brief states. Government employees do not have a First Amendment right to not enforce the law.

An appeals court ruling to the contrary would hinder states’ ability to protect their constitutional systems from wholesale prosecutorial abuse.

Specifically, the attorneys general assert that the First Amendment free-speech clause does not limit states’ ability to remove prosecutors who refuse to do their jobs.

Joining Bailey in filing the amicus brief were the attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

The amicus brief can be read here