Texas Supreme Court rejects Republican Party appeal for in-person convention

The Texas Supreme Court rejected the state Republican Party’s appeal to force an in-person convention in Houston after city officials cancelled the event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The court said in an opinion delivered Monday that although the Republican Party has constitutional rights to hold a convention, it does not have those rights under the agreement with the Houston First Corporation which cancelled its contract with the party to hold a convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center. 

“The Party argues it has constitutional rights to hold a convention and engage in electoral activities, and that is unquestionably true. But those rights do not allow it to simply commandeer use of the Center. Houston First’s only duty to allow the Party use of the Center for its Convention is under the terms of the parties’ Agreement, not a constitution,” the court said in the opinion. 

Justice Jeffrey Boyd did not participate in the discussion and Justice John Devine filed a dissenting opinion. 

The Texas GOP sued Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) last week after the mayor cancelled the Republican’s in-person convention, which was set to begin on Thursday. 

The party filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court after a Harris County district judge denied the GOP’s request.  

Sylvester last week announced that he had instructed the Houston First Corporation, which operates the George R. Brown Convention Center, to exercise its right to contractually cancel the convention. 

The mayor insisted that the decision was not made out of any political reasons. He said the convention would have posed a “clear and present” danger to the Houston community amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Texas is facing a large surge in its number of coronavirus cases. 

An official for the Republican Party of Texas was not immediately available for comment.