A Texas appeals court has dismissed one of two criminal charges against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry in an abuse-of-power case.
The court tossed out a charge related to “coercion of a public servant,” arguing that the underlying statute violated Perry’s first amendment rights.
“The statute on which the “coercion of a public servant” is based, as written, and as we are bound to construe it, violates the First Amendment and, accordingly, cannot be enforced,” the court wrote.
Perry still faces one count regarding “Abuse of Official Capacity.”
The case stems from Perry’s 2013 threat and then decision to veto funding to the Travis County Public Integrity Unit unless a district attorney convicted of drunk driving resigned. When the district attorney didn’t back down, he followed through with the veto.
Perry’s chief counsel, Tony Buzbee, called the move “a clear step towards victory for the rule of law.”
“The only remaining count we believe to be a misdemeanor, and the only issue is whether the governor’s veto - or any veto in the absence of bribery - can ever be illegal,” he said. “The appeals court made clear that this case was questionable. The remaining charge is hanging by a thread, and we are confident that once it is put before the court, it will be dismissed on its face.”
Perry is seeking the Republican nomination for president. He left the governor’s office in January.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.