US Appeals Court Overrules Texas GOP’s In-person Convention

US Appeals Court Overrules Texas GOP’s In-person Convention
Sylvester Turner, mayor of Houston during a session on how communities can use technology to grow and thrive at the Conference Of Mayors in Boston, Mass., on June 8, 2018. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

A federal appeals court has overruled a judge’s decision allowing the Texas Republican Party to hold an in-person convention in Houston, marking a big win for the the nation’s fourth-largest city in an ongoing battle with the state GOP.

In an order issued Saturday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Friday’s ruling that would have permitted the Republican Party of Texas to host an in-person convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center. It came one day after Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner vowed to appeal the case.

Judge Lynn Hughes, of the Southern District of Texas, had ruled Friday that the city of Houston violated the GOP’s constitutional rights by canceling the event.

Turner, a Democrat, had directed convention center operators earlier this month to cancel the Texas GOP’s contract to hold an in-person convention this weekend. The mayor said he believed the three-day event could not be held safely amid a surge of coronavirus cases in Houston and much of Texas.

The party sued, alleging breach of contract, but it lost an appeal at the Texas Supreme Court on Monday.

The ruling Saturday came as Texas reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, for the fifth consecutive day and more than 100 deaths linked to the disease for the fourth day in a row.

State health officials also noted Saturday that there were another 10,158 confirmed coronavirus cases and 130 additional fatalities.

Hospitals in the Texas have been straining under one of the worst outbreaks in the United States. The total number of Texans hospitalized with the disease rose to 10,658 Saturday, from 10,632 Friday. That seven-day average for positive tests was just over 16 percent.

The in-person convention was initially set to run from Thursday to Saturday. But James Dickey, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, said Friday the party was still on-track to try a virtual gathering this weekend.

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