- The Washington Times - Monday, August 25, 2014

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s lawyers argued in court papers filed Monday that the charges leveled against the Republican are bogus and should be tossed out on constitutional grounds.

In the 60-page brief, Mr. Perry’s legal defense team said that the court should not get involved in what amounts to a “political dispute” and said that the prosecution represents a “separation-of-powers attack.”

“Continued prosecution of Governor Perry on the current indictment is unprecedented, insupportable and simply impermissible,” Anthony G. Buzbee and Thomas R. Phillips write in the brief. “This Court should not hesitate to dismiss both counts of the indictment and bar the prosecution, immediately, if not sooner.”

A grand jury indicated Mr. Perry earlier this month on two felony counts of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant after threatening to veto money for a public integrity unit unless the head of it — Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who had been busted for driving under the influence — stepped down. Mr. Perry later followed through on his threat.

In the court filings, Mr. Perry’s lawyers said that the coercion of a public servant law is “fatally vague and overboard, failing to give reasonable notice to any official about what is permissible conduct on the one hand and what is felonious conduct on the other.”

They said that Texas constitutional grants the governor the power to do exactly what he did: veto an appropriation.

“Subjecting any sitting Governor to a criminal prosecution and injecting the judiciary into a political dispute would be an unprecedented assault on this cherished separation of powers, and would impose and intolerable and incalculable chilling effect on the free exercise of legitimate constitutional powers by future governors,” the court filing reads.

And they say that it was within Mr. Perry’s free speech rights to criticize Ms. Lehmberg and to pressure her to quit.

“Core political speech, such as the veto and alleged veto threat at issue in this case, lies at the heart of First Amendment protection,” the lawyers said.

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