Houston has the largest number of medical centers in the country, and they are already filled with coronavirus pandemic patients. Regardless, the Republican Party of Texas has been getting ready to hold its regular state convention on Tuesday. Thousands of participants would be seated cheek by jowl from June 14 through June 16, according to The Associated Press (AP). Mayor Sylvester Turner canceled the event in the fifth-largest city in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained that the party was suing him for canceling its party.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, said last week that he had directed Houston’s attorneys to terminate the contract. It was his opinion that the coronavirus pandemic would prevent the event from occurring safely. Turner said the convention was not a political issue. Instead, he referred to the risks the convention would impose upon essential service workers and first responders should the attendees become ill.
The AP reported on why the city chose to cancel the GOP convention:
‘State District Judge Larry Weiman last week sided with Turner, citing Houston statistics that show major hospitals exceeding their base intensive-care capacity due to an influx of COVID-19 patients.’
The Texas Medical Association withdrew its sponsorship of the state GOP convention as a result of the lawsuits. It requested that the convention’s organizers cancel the live event.
The state had 8,000 new confirmed cases of coronavirus just on Sunday. In total, Texas has 264,811 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 3,246 deaths so far. Houston has 45,368 cases and 458 of the deaths as of this writing.
Since then, the Texas Supreme Court turned back the Republican Party’s appeal to a lower court’s decision. That made firm Mayor Turner’s cancellation. The ruling Monday night from the higher court was in response to a lower court’s decision, according to The Houston Chronicle.
In the opinion, the court ruled that although the Texas Grand Old Party (GOP) had a constitutional right to hold a convention:
‘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.’
‘[T]hose rights do not allow it to simply commandeer use [the George R. Brown Convention 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.’
Three years ago, this is what the Texas GOP looked like:
The convention center was where the GOP had been planning to hold their event, seating the participants together. The opinion was “per curiam” (unsigned). The GOP also sued Houston First in tandem with Mayor Turner. It is the city nonprofit that operates the convention center.
The Texas Supreme Court also rejected a petition for a writ of mandamus, which is a court order that would have made the city reverse canceling the convention. Steve Hotze filed the petition, and there were three other plaintiffs.
Houston is located in Harris County. A county judge had earlier denied the request for a temporary restraining order by the Republican Party Texas-style.
Before the GOP of Texas went to court, it had a plan B. They would hold their convention online rather than in person. There is no word on whether the party will go to its beta plan.
In the case, there was just one dissenting opinion. Justice John Devine:
‘Justice John Devine filed the lone dissenting opinion, arguing that the court had standing to rule on the Texas GOP’s case and that Houston First breached its contract with the party by canceling. Devine also dissented from the court’s decision to deny Hotze’s petition.’
Justice Jeff Boyd removed himself from participating in the case. The Texas Democratic Party called for him to recuse himself from the case, along with three other justices. Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justices Jane Bland and Brett Bushy chose not to recuse themselves.
The Texas Attorney General’s office filed the brief, and Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins, Texas’ top appellate attorney, argued that the court should agree with the mayor and Houston First.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has flowed across the state, Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, required wearing face masks and reversed the decision to open some businesses.
The state Republican Chair James Dickey claimed that the event could have been held safely. The GOP had implemented plans for daily temperature scans, making masks available, and put in numerous hand sanitizer stations. Of course, not every individual with the disease has a constant high temperature. The virus causes some individuals to have modest sporadical fluctuating temperatures, unlike the highest temperatures some suffer.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.