The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Monday, August 18, 2008

AALS takes its stand
Tom Smith

And here is the statement from the AALS regarding the proposed boycott of the Manchester Hyatt on the grounds that Doug Manchester gave money to the campaign to reverse by constitutional amendment initiative the California Supreme Court's decision that reversed the California initiative against same sex marriage, which some people think he shouldna.

Statement Adopted by AALS Executive Committee 
August 15, 2008
The AALS 2009 Annual Meeting will take place January 6-10, 2009, in San Diego, California. Several years ago the Association booked rooms at the San Diego Marriott and the Manchester Grand Hyatt. In the last few weeks there have been suggestions that the Association should boycott the Hyatt because its owner has contributed money to a ballot initiative designed to overturn the California Supreme Court's May decision in favor of same-sex marriage. In addressing this issue, the Executive Committee has sought to ensure that the Annual Meeting serves the needs of all participants to the maximum extent possible given our contractual obligations to the hotels.


Our contracts with the hotels provide that each hotel reserve a block of guest rooms, and leave to the AALS the choice of where to locate the AALS Registration, Exhibit Hall, Section Programs, Presidential Programs, and House of Representatives meetings. We will honor our contracts with both hotels, and we have exercised our option to hold all AALS events at the Marriott to ensure the maximum participation by our members.

Law schools and other organizations hosting meetings and receptions will be contacted soon by an AALS meetings manager regarding the location of their events. Faculty and staff at law schools will soon receive housing information and you will be able to choose your individual hotel room on a first-come, first-served basis in accordance with the usual housing procedures.

Hmmm.  I hope they had their lawyers look at this.  It sounds to me like one of those contracts cases I teach where you enter into a requirements contract and then say "Surprise!  It turns out actually that we require . . . nothing!"  That is, it seems like there might have been a good faith expectation by the partially-owned-by-a-person-insufficiently-supportive-of-gay-marriage hotel that some of the planned events would be held at each of the hotels.  And in California of course, memories of conversations utterly at variance with whatever the contract happens to say are admissible under Justice Traynor's doctrine of the more the merrier. 

I am happy, however, to see the AALS is taking a principled stand on this issue, though I am sorry I am not clever enough to discern exactly what principle is being stood up for.  First come, first serve perhaps, which is certainly a principle many of us live by, if only because we have to.

UPDATE  Dan Rodriguez notes here that Doug Manchester owns both the Hyatt and the Marriott in San Diego.  Does anybody know if he owns more of one hotel than the other?  The law of irony would suggest that the boycott will direct right (i.e. left) thinking law professors to check in at the hotel that is more thoroughly owned by Mr. Manchester.  This assures that Manchester will go from being indifferent to the boycott, to being really, really indifferent.  It also shows once again the wisdom of the adage -- beware when you are about to do something stupid, lest it prove stupider than you think.

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Tom Smith


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