Texas GOP Loses Lawsuit That Would Force In-Person Convention

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 21: Texas GOP delegates look to the ceiling of the Quicken Loans arena as balloons drop on the last day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 21: Texas GOP delegates look to the ceiling of the Quicken Loans arena as balloons drop on the last day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ann ... CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 21: Texas GOP delegates look to the ceiling of the Quicken Loans arena as balloons drop on the last day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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July 13, 2020 12:53 p.m.

The appeal filed by the Republican Party of Texas that would allow it to host its in-person convention in Houston this week was dismissed by the Texas Supreme Court on Monday morning.

The Texas GOP’s convention was originally scheduled to begin on Thursday at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center and was expected to draw roughly 6,000 attendees. Last Saturday, the State Republican Executive Committee, considered the party’s governing board, argued that the convention is protected under both the Texas and U.S. Constitutions and that the in-person event should be allowed to proceed.

The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court wrote in its 7-1 ruling that although it “is unquestionably true” that the party has constitutional rights to hold a convention, “those rights do not allow it to simply commandeer use of the Center.”

Last week, Houston officials canceled the Texas GOP’s convention after Mayor Sylvester Turner directed the city’s legal department to work with the Houston First Corporation, which operates the convention center, in reviewing the contract with the state’s GOP.

In a letter to the Texas GOP, Houston First Corp., the operator of the convention center, cited a clause in the contract that gave either side the right to cancel the agreement if an occurrence “is beyond the reasonable control of the party whose performance is affected,” which include “epidemics in the City of Houston” and emergency government declarations.

Shortly after Houston First Corp. issued its letter, the Texas GOP said that it planned to sue both the operator and Turner in an effort to proceed with its in-person convention. The Texas GOP argued that Turner and Houston couldn’t cite that particular clause in the contract “as a magical spell to escape what (Turner) has decided is an unwanted contract.”

A Harris County judge denied the Texas GOP’s request, which lead to the party taking its appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

The Texas Supreme Court’s ruling comes amid Houston leaders’ call for another lockdown as coronavirus cases in the county surged to more than 27,600 on Sunday.

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