The Texas Supreme Court ruled today, Monday, July 13, that Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner had the right to keep the Houston Convention Center closed rather than opening next week for the state Republican Party convention.

Turner is concerned with spread of the coronavirus. Over the past weekend, ICU units reached capacity in Houston’s largest hospitals.

The Texas Republican Party charged Turner with breach of contract when he refused to open the convention center for its statewide convention. As a political party, it is exempt from any closures or stay-at-home orders issued by the governor under both the state and federal constitutions. They also claimed the city government has no immunity from claims of unequal treatment or denial of constitutional rights under the law. And that it has a constitutional right to hold election activity.

The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court ruled “those rights do not allow it to simply commandeer use of the Center.”

In its decision, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on a narrow point of law. They wrote that Turner’s decision was legal because it was based on the terms of the contract between the party and the company that manages the convention center and is not governed by law or the state constitution. One justice issued a dissenting opinion.

— David Taffet