RLCTX Statement On Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Cancellation Of The RPT State Convention Venue
HOUSTON, TEXAS – One of the very foundations of our Nation is the belief in our rights to peacefully assemble and to petition government. Whether in response to virus concerns, public protests, or political organization, local and state governments have severely tested this bedrock value in recent months. However, the Texas Supreme Court has strongly reminded these local and state governments that they cannot suspend these rights due to a pandemic.
Mayor Turner has defied the Texas Supreme Court’s admonition and canceled the Republican Party of Texas’ State Convention at the last minute, a glaringly hypocritical move driven not by public health concerns, but entirely by politics. Over ten times the number of people expected at this convention flooded the streets of Houston just a month ago for protests and a funeral, with no plan for public spacing, no mask requirements, and no public health monitors stalking and threatening the attendees. Additionally, media outlets across the country have been scrambling to publish articles about how these protests emphatically did not cause the virus to spread.
Yet even though the RPT made specific and detailed plans to comply with all of the ever-changing regulations required by the city of Houston to hold an in-person convention, Mayor Turner decided to cancel the event anyway, infringing on the right of every Texas Republican to assemble and conduct their party business.
The RPT will of course make alternative plans, and some of the business of the convention will still be conducted, in spite of the mayor’s hypocrisy and partisan attack. But regardless of where one stands on the wisdom of holding the convention – again, one which would have been held with better precautions and health and safety guidelines than the prior protests or funeral – we believe all people can agree that the government has no right to silence assemblies of people whose purpose is to gather together to petition that government.