RICHMOND, Va. – A federal appeals court is upholding an indictment against Rep. William Jefferson, clearing the way for continuation of his bribery trial.
Jefferson sought dismissal of the indictment by arguing that the government violated the Constitution's "Speech and Debate Clause," which prevents law enforcement from arresting lawmakers in connection to formal action related to their position in Congress.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Jefferson's argument, saying the government can prosecute without using the material protected by the Constitution. A lower court judge had previously refused to dismiss the indictment, saying Jefferson was trying to apply immunity so broadly that it would make it virtually impossible to ever charge a congressman with a crime
In another court on Wednesday, District Judge T.S. Ellis canceled a conference scheduled for later this week to determine if the cause should go to trial in early December.
Jefferson just won the Democratic primary on Nov. 4 and faces Republican Joseph Cao in the general election on Dec. 6. The nine-term lawmaker is expected to win re-election in his heavily-Democratic New Orleans district.
FOX News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.