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'The doors remain locked' | Appeals court stops possible in-person Texas GOP convention, says Houston mayor

Overnight, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted that an appeals court has stayed a federal court ruling which would have allowed an in-person convention.

HOUSTON — SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said an appeals court has temporarily stayed a federal judge’s decision that allowed the Texas GOP to hold an in-person convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

What this means -- according to Turner, despite the U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes ruling, the GOP will not get access to the GRB this weekend.

Turner said the decision was made overnight Saturday – hours after U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes verbally ruled Friday that the city failed to make a case compelling enough to trump the party’s First Amendment right to meet.

Turner said the republican party's push for an indoor, large in-person gathering is "totally irresponsible" during the middle of a pandemic.  

The convention was expected to begin virtually on Thursday but due to technical difficulties, it was postponed to Saturday.  

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Previous story on Friday's ruling from a federal judge

A federal judge has ruled the city of Houston must make the George R. Brown Convention Center available for the Texas GOP Convention.  

Judge Lynn Hughes ruled the city’s cancellation last week of the in-person conference at Mayor Sylvester Turner’s request was a violation of the party’s First Amendment rights.

Mayor Turner says the city and Houston First plan to appeal Friday's ruling.

The ruling doesn't mean the convention will happen in person in Houston. According to the state Republican Party, the GRB Convention Center will be used only if they see a repeat of technical issues they experienced trying to hold an online conference.

"The RPT is on track to hold its convention online with its approved plan from the State Republican Executive Committee," said Texas GOP chairman James Dickey in a statement. "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." 

Earlier this week, the Texas Supreme Court had upheld the city’s cancellation.

Statement 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. After denying the Republican Party's request for a temporary restraining order, the federal judge late Friday evening apparently has changed his mind Upon receiving a written order from the federal judge, the City of Houston and Houston First will appeal." 

Statement from Texas GOP chairman James Dickey

“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. 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.”

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.” 

Statement from Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa

“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. 

If this proceeds, Texans will remember who put their lives at risk to hold a pep rally. Hospitality workers will remember who forced them to risk their health and lives to host a gala. Enough is enough. Vote blue like our lives depend on it.”

RELATED: Republican Party of Texas leaders opt for virtual convention after loss at state Supreme Court

RELATED: Texas Supreme Court denies Texas GOP's appeal to hold in-person convention this week in Houston

RELATED: Inside Texas Politics: Houston mayor's cancellation of Texas Republican Convention sparks political controversy

RELATED: Judge denies temporary restraining order after Texas GOP sues Houston mayor, city for convention cancellation

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