Here in Marion County, Indiana, incumbent Prosecutor Ryan Mears has generated Republican criticism for making it clear he will deploy the resources of his office to target serious crime–and that his definition of serious crime doesn’t include smoking a joint or having an abortion. He sees his job as an important part of public safety efforts to protect citizens against crimes like rape, robbery and murder.
Mears is hardly the only prosecutor taking that position. Prosecutors have limited resources, and determining the most effective use of those resources in combatting crime is actually a critical part of the job description.
Right now, a battle taking place in Florida between Governor Ron DeSantis and Prosecutor Andrew Warren is illuminating what happens when an ambitious and autocratic governor pretends not to understand that responsibility.
When Florida’s Republican governor fired the Tampa area’s top prosecutor for defying the state’s transgender and abortion crackdown, Ron DeSantis made it clear that he believes his power as governor supersedes the power of voters.
But now that prosecutor, Andrew Warren, is suing to get his job back, and the twice-elected state attorney tells The Daily Beast this is more than a fight over his employment; it’s about whether a strongman governor can single-handedly toss a democratically elected local official out of office.
Politicians like DeSantis and (clumsier and closer to home, Todd Rokita) have tied themselves to the MAGA/ White Christian Nationalist crusade–since his election, DeSantis has moved to “ban certain books in schools, halt transgender health care for young people, isolate and bully gay kids, and target transgender athletes in schools.”
Warren makes an important point: if DeSantis can overturn the will of the voters who chose him as prosecutor, what would prevent him from targeting elected school board members who choose to ignore his book bans and crackdowns on gay and transgender kids?
“There’s so much more at stake than my job. This is a fight to stop the erosion of our democracy. It’s to ensure our democracy has meaning, so we have elected officials and not a king, so no governor can steal the people’s vote and silence their voice. Regardless of what party you belong to, your vote matters,” Warren said.
This particular battle started shortly after the Supreme Court stripped women of abortion rights in June, when Warren and other elected prosecutors across the country sought to temper widespread fears about misogynistic crackdowns. Warren signed a joint statement vowing to not “criminalize reproductive health decisions.” DeSantis, seething over what he called a “woke” resistance, announced with much fanfare on Aug. 4 that he was suspending the Hillsborough County state attorney. The executive order accused Warren of “eroding the rule of law” and “encouraging lawlessness.” Warren sued two weeks later in federal court.
So far, the judge in the case has consistently ruled against DeSantis on preliminary matters. He issued an order rejecting the governor’s legal theory, which requires a finding that that public employees’ on-the-job statements aren’t protected by the First Amendment, and also requires a determination that an elected prosecutor is an “employee” of the governor who can be subjected to discipline by that governor/employer.
The judge has made a correct and important distinction between elected officials, and appointed agency employees. DeSantis has the legal authority to target the latter category, no matter how vindictively—as he did to the Health Department researcher who was pressured to resign when she wouldn’t fake COVID-19 data to make Florida look good.
He has no such power over officials who were voted into office.
The lawsuit in Florida and the criticisms being leveled against the numerous prosecutors who have taken positions similar to those taken by Warren and Mears should operate to focus more attention on down-ballot elections. We The People get to choose our local officials, and those officials aren’t beholden to state-wide officeholders–they are accountable to the law and to us. It behooves us to investigate their positions, priorities and prior performance, and vote accordingly.
Here in Marion County, Indiana, we are fortunate enough to have an incumbent prosecutor who is forthright about where he stands, and candid about the ways in which he intends to deploy the limited resources of his office. For my part, I agree entirely with his priorities and approve of the way in which he has run the office. People who disagree should vote for his opponent. No matter who wins, however, that individual will be accountable to us, the voters–not to the governor and not to Indiana’s current (embarrassing) Attorney General.
They, too, are accountable to We The People.
19 thoughts on “Power To The (Voting) People”
While the major thread of the blog post is about a Governor, wannabe king, overstepping his authority, the whole discussion is based on numerous Republican manufactured Hot Button Issues, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, and sadly being tough on crime.
As for the being tough on crime, I say this a manufactured issue, because the Republican stance on the 2nd Amendment is helping to normalize the unbelievable gun violence that occurs in the US. We are tops in the world for gun suicide, tops in the world gun accidents, murders from gunshots, and I suspect gun shot injuries. But, all of this is OK because you get to own as many guns as you want. The fact that this generates unbelievable and out of control crime numbers, especially in large cites is a super bonus because now Republicans can actually help create more of problem that they can complain about to stoke people’s fear.
There is absolutely no interest in controlling crime from the Republican side, it is all about fear and manipulation. I predict this will continue until incidents like the suburban Raleigh shooting, or the Greenwood Park Mall shooting become common place, and people start to wake up to the fact that more guns is not the solution, and might really be the problem. But of course that same problem will allow Republicans, the Gun Manufactures, and the gun lobbyists convince some people that it is now necessary for them to go arm themselves.
There is no controlling crime as long of the root problem is not addressed and that is not something any city or county, or even state official can address, since we know that no matter how stringent the local gun laws are, there are no border checkpoints within the US.
Was it Pence or Holcomb who negated the office of state superintendent, an elected position and then appointed his choice overruling the votes or choice of the people?
Or did I dream this?
Either way it seems dicktatorial santus could do the same and negate his problem. Eliminate the elected position and appoint his choice.
Notice I am STILL using two spaces after the end of a sentence. Humpf.
Hear, hear to Vernon on yesterday’s post
Check it out
Vernon, you answered my question of a before poster’s statement: Rule of Law
The fact that DeSantis is not completely insane hides the fact that he is just a coherent version of Donald Trump.
Una, it was Pence, and it was appallingly partisan, and not in service of the people of Indiana.
“Power to the (Voting) people”; we can only hope this will be true after November 8th mid-term elections are decided. Factoring in Trump’s Republicans “Big Lie” and “Stop The Steal” continuation of the 2020 presidential election, we are not even assured those decisions will be made final before the end of this year. To those followers; the correct decision on that presidential election has still not been made. My Ear Worm has the words of Cole Porter’s song, “Anything Goes” running through my head.
“In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked upon as something shocking. But now, God knows, anything goes. (Insert here Lizzo playing President Madison’s flute at his historical home)
Good authors, too, who once knew better words now use only four-letter words writing prose, anything goes.
The world has gone mad today and good’s bad today and black’s white today and day’s night today…anything goes”
“No matter who wins, however, that individual will be accountable to us, the voters…” Words from a song from “Porgy And Bess” fit here; “It Ain’t Necessarily So”!
Let’s hope that judges continue to rule against power-hungry ultra-partisan nut-jobs like DeSantis. Yes, “a coherent version of Trump” is exactly right!
BTW — Nancy Pelosi is my new hero. I’d be willing to hold Trump while she punches him and we could both go to jail and be happy!!
JoAnn, you hit two of my favorite composers today, first the native born Hoosier, Cole Porter then George Gershwin. Thanks! I admit to doing my best Ethel Merman on “Anything Goes.”
Governor DeMented just keeps on doing what he’s doing and it looks like he’ll get 4 more years to do it in. If you only need to worry about your base to stay in power, as does Ron, you can do all sorts of nonsense and get away with it. The Bexar County, Texas Sheriff has concluded that the asylum seekers he flew from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard are victims of a crime, so even if they end up not qualifying for asylum, they have the right to stay. The crime here was committed by the Governor, but his base thinks he “stuck it to the libs,” so they don’t care.
I wish Andrew Warren were running for governor.
No, Una and Jane, neither Governor Pence or Holcomb eliminated the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction position. Rather it was a bill passed by the Indiana General Assembly. (I don’t know why people would think an Indiana Governor has the power to wave a wand and get rid of a statewide elected offices.) The change from an elected to appointed position for the head of K-12 schools has been discussed since at least the early 1980s and has had support of Republican and Democratic officials over those years. The argument is that, since K-12 spending consumes 50% or more of the state’s budget, the administration of education should be the responsibility of the Governor not an elected official who 95% could not name.
I wondered how the Florida Governor could “fire” a local prosecutor elected by the voters. My understanding is that when an official is elected by the public, their only boss is the voters. I thought maybe Florida has some weird rules that allow for such a firing. Then again, maybe Desantis acted beyond his legal authority.
As far as the prosecutor’s race, I heard part of the debate in which the Republican candidate decried the use of plea bargains when seeking the conviction of violent offenders. So ridiculous. Anyone who complains about plea bargains as an administrative tool is either oblivious about how prosecutor’s offices have to operate, or they’re just being disingenous.
Sheila’s offering today has a direct bearing on my personal situation. I was retired to a house on a lake in Naples, Florida, when DeSantis was elected. All of my immediate family lived and still lives in Indiana. A few years ago, when DeSantis started playing Hitler and vying with Trump, I came back here to Indiana (Bloomington, a blue dot in a red sea) and currently live with my older daughter, since I refuse to live under the direct jurisdiction of a fascist, a would be strongman who I early absentee voted against just this last week. (I have heard since that my vote has been received and counted, so it appears it has averted the gaze of De Santis’s executive creation and funding of his “election police.”) My house in Naples remains vacant.
DeSantis will lose the case Sheila discusses today unless a politicized judiciary decides that any branch of government can overrule the will of the people, in which case our already fleeting democracy will come to an end. To wax philosophical, think a compromised Judge Cannon and weep for those who died in vain for democracy and escape from such as Alito’s “originalism,” not to mention over 50% of Americans (women) who are deprived of what I consider to be one of Jefferson’s “inalienable rights,” i.e., the right to attend to one’s own health. If one has an inalienable right it does not belong on any chopping block whether executive, legislative or judicial; otherwise it is not and never was “inalienable.”
Let’s vote these tyrants and their ilk – out!
Good for you, Gerald!
My family and I all live in SC under the reign of McDiaster and his gang of ill-informed nitwits in the state house. Watch this video for an example of an ill-informed SC legislator regretting his anti-abortion stance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwcGQdHj7fk
We are voting for our governor this November and I hope he will get the boot. However, SC is known for being a bastion of Confederates — saw a confederate flag plate on a vehicle just this morning. >:-(
Michael Moore has been running a daily blog for a while in which he underscores why he believes there will be a Blue Wave in November. Let’s hope he is correct – he predicted Trump would win in 2016 against all of the polls and he was right. So maybe there’s hope. If we don’t keep our majority in both houses, it’s all over but the cryin’.
Mears is the exception. I will vote for the Republican challenger. His challenger seems to be a very smart woman. Mears loves to make deals with- and on behalf of violent criminals.Why does he do this? I don’t know. During a recent interview he blames everyone else but himself and his office. Today,thanks to a liberal judge and the lack of prosecutorial moxy from the Mears’ office,a triple murderer is going free (Caden Smith) with only an GPS gadget to monitor him (sound familiar)? Perhaps he (Mears) hates the community and wants violent animals to walk among the population? Why are Democrats consistently always on the side of society’s criminal elements? Or is he simply another incompetent grifter?
I’m voting for the smart woman to unseat Mears.
You do a disservice to the community by recommending Mears.
I recognize that there have always been elected officials who choose to believe they are above the laws that everyone else is expected to follow. However, ex-president tRump’s brazen, defiant, disrespectful and illegal behavior and actions opened the doors for many other elected officials in this country to behave the same way. McConnell’s refusal to publicly condemn the bad behavior of any elected republicans makes him just as guilty, in my opinion. If he had voted in favor of tFump’s first impeachment he would have saved this country a vast zmount of wasted time and money. A yes vote by McConnell would have given notice to tRump and his allies that their behavior would not be tolerated any longer.
Kathy M – Moore was right but Trump was not elected by the will of the people; he was elected by the “will” of an antiquated electoral count. Hillary won the election by the will of the people and a majority vote is one of the linchpins of democracy while the electoral count is an impediment to the real voter count and should be removed.
Una – it was Pence.
Gerald — agree — but I’m sure Moore factored that in when making his prediction. He’s pretty savvy when it comes to political issues.
Exacty, Kathy. Like the rest of us, Moore is is stuck with the electoral count. It’s not how much; it’s where.
As much as I understand that we humans are AWFUL at predicting the future, I certainly hope that Michael Moore is correct.
I am hoping Warren not only gets reinstated, but, perhaps runs for gov’r here, sooner, or later. DeSantis is not insane, but is a
nasty, one dimensional wanna-be human. He “won” the office only because former gov’r Scott (expletive deleted), worked to
remove some 82,000 people named Johnson from the voting lists, when a particular Johnson supposedly was ineligible to vote
in Fl., because he/she was a convicted felon. Failing to find “that” Johnson, the state just pulled all Johnsons from the list.
It has long been my belief that much of the marijuana, and numerous other laws, at least here, if not also elsewhere, are designed to
entrap people of color…in order to be able to remove them from voting lists.
DeSantis ought to lose the court case to Warren, hands down, but then, one never knows, do one?
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