Judge refuses to toss Perry case on constitutional grounds

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Gov. Rick Perry in legal trouble 11/6
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Judge refuses to toss Perry case on constitutional grounds
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, answers questions from the media following a hearing on felony abuse of power charges at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, in Austin, Texas. An Austin grand jury indicted Perry in August. The charges stem from his carrying out a threat to veto state funding for public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry appeared in an Austin court Thursday for a pre-trial hearing regarding felony abuse of power charges he faces. In a statement following the hearing, he maintained his innocence. (Nov. 6)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry answers questions from the media following a hearing on felony abuse of power charges at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, in Austin, Texas. An Austin grand jury indicted Perry in August. The charges stem from his carrying out a threat to veto state funding for public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry answers questions from the media following a hearing on felony abuse of power charges at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, in Austin, Texas. An Austin grand jury indicted Perry in August. The charges stem from his carrying out a threat to veto state funding for public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, second right, listens as his lawyers Tony Buzbee, right, speaks and his other lawyer David Botsford, left, looks on during a hearing on felony abuse of power charges in the 390th District Court at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, in Austin, Texas. An Austin grand jury indicted Perry in August. The charges stem from his carrying out a threat to veto state funding for public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner, Pool)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a Republican victory party Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
This image provided by the Austin Police Department shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry while being booked at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, Texas, for two felony indictments of abuse of power on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Austin Police Department)
A group holds signsabout Texas Gov. Rick Perry as he leaves the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center after he was booked, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, laughs with his attorney David Botsford, right, as he is booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry has been booked on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding to state public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, center, is booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry has been booked on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding to state public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, center, arrives at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry has been booked on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding to state public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, front right, is escorted away from the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry has been booked on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding to state public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A supporter holds a sign for Texas Gov. Rick Perry as he talks with media and supporters at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center after he was booked, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, arrives at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center for booking, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry has been booked on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding to state public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry holds a sign as he speaks at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression by publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, talks with his attorney David Botsford, right, as he is booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry has been booked on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding to state public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks to the media and supporters after he was booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks to the media and supporters after he was booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks to the media and supporters after he was booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, leaves the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center after he was booked, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2014, file photo, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks with reporters after a town hall meeting in Derry, N.H. McCain has scoffed at the indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on abuse-of-power charges, and has encouraged Perry make repeated stops in New Hampshire as early presidential campaigning begin. Perry is set to visit New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 22-23, 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, front right, is escorted away from the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center after he was booked, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry has been booked on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding to state public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pedestrians enter and exit the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Austin, Texas. A judge has decided not to issue an arrest warrant for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a court official said Monday, meaning the Republican can continue traveling the country and gearing up for a possible 2016 presidential run despite being indicted on two felony counts of abuse of power. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pedestrians enter and exit the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Austin, Texas. A judge has decided not to issue an arrest warrant for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a court official said Monday, meaning the Republican can continue traveling the country and gearing up for a possible 2016 presidential run despite being indicted on two felony counts of abuse of power. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry bids farewell after speaking to the media after turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the media after turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the media after turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Bulverde residents Geri Ray (C) and Kaci Poindexter (R) with the Bulverde Republican Women, are interviewed by LeeAnn Walace with the media after Texas Governor Rick Perry turned himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the media after turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the media after turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry arrives to speak to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry emerges after being finger printed at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Supporters shout for Texas Governor Rick Perry as he speaks to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry acknowledges supporters as he steps to the podium to speak to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A Texas judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss a felony abuse-of-power case against former Gov. Rick Perry on constitutional grounds, rejecting the argument that Perry was acting within his rights as chief executive of America's second-most populous state when he carried out a veto threat.

The decision by District Judge Bert Richardson, who like Perry is a Republican, means the case against the possible 2016 presidential hopeful can move forward. Perry left office Jan. 20 and says he will announce as soon as May whether he will make a second run for the White House.

Perry was indicted in August on charges of abuse of official power and coercion of a public servant. He is accused of publicly threatening - then making good on - a 2013 veto of $7.5 million in state funding last year for a public corruption division within the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. That came after Lehmberg, a Democrat, refused to resign following a conviction and jail time for drunken driving.

Perry has spent more than $1.1 million of his campaign funds on his defense.

In a 60-page motion filed in August, Perry's legal team argued that the law being used to prosecute the longest-serving governor in Texas history is unconstitutionally vague and decried "attempts to convert inescapably political disputes into criminal complaints."

Richardson had previously refused to toss the case on a series of technicalities Perry's lawyers raised, including questioning whether the special prosecutor assigned to the case, San Antonio attorney Michael McCrum, was properly sworn in.

A grand jury in Austin - a liberal enclave in otherwise largely conservative Texas - indicted Perry. If convicted, the former governor faces a maximum 109 years in prison. He calls the matter a political witch hunt and says he would issue the veto again if given the chance.

Top national Republicans initially lined up to praise Perry and decry the criminal charges against him - but they've been less vocal about their support as the case drags on.

McCrum says the case is stronger than it may outwardly appear, and that it should be heard by a jury.

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