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AG sides with Mayor Turner in GOP convention litigation

But only in a limited and technical way, so cool your jets.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

The Texas Attorney General’s Office on Saturday sided with Mayor Sylvester Turner in a legal dispute over the state Republican Party’s in-person convention, arguing that the Texas Supreme Court should reject the party’s attempt to proceed with the event.

In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins — the state’s top appellate lawyer — said that despite the party’s “troubling factual allegations,” the court should deny its petition for failing to “properly invoke [the court’s] mandamus authority.”

The legal proceedings began earlier this week after Turner ordered Houston First Corp., the city nonprofit that manages the convention site, to cancel the event over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. The Republican Party sued Turner and Houston First, but a Harris County judge denied the party’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have blocked Turner from canceling the event. The party then filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the Texas Supreme Court.

In its petition, the party invoked a section of Texas’ election code that allows the court to issue orders that “compel the performance of any duty imposed by law in connection with the holding of an election or a political party convention.” In his brief, Hawkins argued that the party’s convention contract with Houston First does not apply, because the convention was to be held under a contract, not a law.

Prior Supreme Court rulings have “distinguished ‘a duty created under [a] contract’ as legally distinct from ‘a duty imposed by law,’” Hawkins wrote.

See here for the background, and here for a copy of the AG’s brief. A copy of the original writ is here. As the story notes, the AG similarly opposed Steven Hotze’s petition on the matter, arguing Hotze has no business in this matter. The Court also has the matter of the motion for four of them to recuse themselves to sort out. I presume that has to happen first, since we have to have the question of who is ruling on the write of mandamus settled before the ruling can happen. Gonna be a busy couple of days at the SCOTX. Oh, and Paxton also opposed Hotze’s petition for a TRO against Judge Hidalgo’s latest face mask order, on the grounds that Hotze’s multiple challenges to the Texas Disaster Act may cause “irreparable harm” to the state’s sovreignty. I presume there will be a similar filing against Hotze’s lawsuit challenging Abbott’s face mask order, too. And yes, the correct response to all this is exasperation and exhaustion.

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One Comment

  1. Wolfgang says:

    GOPPERS CAN GET A QUICKIE RULING OVER THE WEEKEND.

    THE SUPREME COURT OF TEXAS
    Orders Pronounced July 13, 2020

    MISCELLANEOUS

    THE FOLLOWING PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS IS DISMISSED FOR WANT OF JURISDICTION:

    20-0525 IN RE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEXAS

    Relator’s emergency motion for temporary relief dismissed
    The Court dismisses for want of jurisdiction the writ of mandamus.

    Per Curiam Opinion

    Justice Devine delivered a dissenting opinion.

    (Justice Boyd not participating)

    THE FOLLOWING PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS IS DENIED:

    20-0524 IN RE STEVEN HOTZE, M.D., JOSH FLYNN, DELEGATE AND SECRETARY FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEXAS CATHIE ADAMS, FORMER CHAIRPERSON REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEXAS RICK HOTZE, AND GREG BLUME; from Harris County

    Emergency motion for temporary relief denied

    Justice Devine dissents from the denial of the petition for writ of mandamus.

    (Justice Boyd not participating)

    https://www.txcourts.gov/supreme/orders-opinions/2020/july/july-13-2020/

    Judge Daryl Moore in Houston said he would get a ruling out on the temporary injunction application by 3pm today (it doesn’t look good for the GOP in that trial-level case either, based on how the Zoom hearing went…. It’s all about the force majeure, as it should, not the polemics).