Federal appeals court overrules judge on in-person Texas GOP convention in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A federal appeals court has stayed a judge's ruling in the on-going battle to hold an in-person Texas GOP convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

"The City of Houston and Houston First appealed the ruling of Judge Lynn Hughes allowing the State Republican Party to proceed with an indoor convention," Mayor Sylvester Turner wrote on Twitter overnight. "The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed Judge Hughes ruling. In the middle of a pandemic, the doors remain locked"

News of the decision came hours after a Houston federal judge ruled that the Texas GOP could hold an in-person convention.

Judge Lynn Hughes had ruled Friday that the event could be held this weekend or next weekend.

Last week, Turner announced the cancellation of the contract between the city's GRB convention center and the GOP, which began a legal battle between party leaders and the City of Houston.

TAKE A LOOK: Cancellation email from the city of Houston and Houston First

SEE ALSO: Mayor Turner cancels state Republican party's convention

After Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced last week that the city had canceled its contract with the GOP convention, which was scheduled at the GRB on July 16, Texas Republicans decided to hold a virtual convention.

READ MORE: Texas GOP votes to hold virtual state convention

Portion of response from Mayor Turner

"We are in the midst of a pandemic, a public health crisis. More people are being admitted to our hospitals and ICUs, and more people are dying. The State Republican Executive Committee is being totally irresponsible in continuing to push for an indoor, in-person convention. This reflects a total disregard for the health and safety of employees and people in our city. Upon receiving a written order from the federal judge, the City of Houston and Houston First will appeal."

Portion of response from Texas Democrats

"After proving that they couldn't handle a virtual convention, Texas Republicans are now willing to risk the lives of millions of Texans because they are too technologically inept to continue in a safe and distant manner. Shame on the judge who issued this ruling. There is no justification whatsoever for holding an in-person convention in the biggest coronavirus hotspot in the country. Texas had a record number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths today. Houston is one of the hardest hit cities in the country. We have shown absolutely zero signs of flattening the curve. This decision is flat out wrong. Due to this decision, people will get sick and die."

Portion of response from Texas Republicans

"After the technical issues we experienced at RPT yesterday, immediate redundancy became a key objective. I was invited to join this lawsuit and took the opportunity to provide a last-resort method in-person if we needed it to secure our national election obligations," said RPT Chairman James Dickey. "The RPT is on track to hold its convention online with its approved plan from the State Republican Executive Committee. Our online convention provides the greatest opportunity for as many delegates who want to participate in the Convention as possible. Delegate rights and delegate empowerment are critical to us and define the Republican grassroots. We learned a hard lesson yesterday and with this win today, if for any reason there is an issue tomorrow, we know that we have a single location where, with the necessary SREC authorizations, we could hold Congressional District Caucuses to elect our National Delegates and Alternates and Presidential Electors for President Donald J. Trump." Dickey continued, "We applaud Judge Hughes for affirming the position the RPT took in our original lawsuit, making clear that Mayor Turner cannot use pretext to infringe our right to in-person Convention. "I hope this ruling sets a precedent for other state and local Republican parties and organizations who come against a bully Democrat mayor's malicious shutdown."
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