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Social Distancing Measures

In re Republican Party of Texas, Relator


In re Republican Party of Texas, Relator (Texas Supreme Court, July 13, 2020): The court held in a 7-1 vote that the Republican Party of Texas could not force a convention center to hold the July 2020 state convention after the City of Houston and center terminated the agreement due to COVID-19. The Republican party asked the court to compel the City and the center to honor their contractual obligations. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit Texas in March, however, the parties added a “force-majeure clause” to the contract, which allowed events like a pandemic to prevent “use and occupancy” of the center. The center cited “the unprecedented scope and severity of the COVID-19 epidemic” in its termination letter, which the court concurred. While the Republican party has a constitutional right to hold its convention, it cannot “commandeer” use of the center. The center’s duty to hold the conference was governed by the contract. A dissenting justice argued that Texas Election Code compels the City of Houston and center to fulfill their “duty imposed by law” to host the convention. Read the full opinion here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – September 14, 2020.

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