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Thursday, February 19, 2009

AALS Boycott Did Not Require Breach of Contract

Id_aalsYou may recall last semester's quasi-controversy over whether the AALS Mother Ship should hold any of the annual meeting events at the San Diego Grand Hyatt because it was owned (ostensibly?) by Doug Manchester, who had contributed quite generously to efforts to pass California's anti-gay marriage referendum, Prop 8. The L.A. Metropolitan News reports that the AALS did not have to breach its contract with the Manchester Hyatt when it undertook a boycott:

The American Association of Law Schools did not have to breach any contracts in order to avoid meeting at a San Diego hotel that has become the target of a boycott because of its owner’s support of Proposition 8, the group’s chief executive said yesterday.

Susan Prager told the MetNews that the AALS had reserved blocks of hotel rooms at both the San Diego Marriott and the Manchester Grand Hyatt for its annual meeting, which took place January 6-10.

The organization generally reserves space in two to three hotels to accommodate its meetings, Prager explained, but in light of the controversy over Doug Manchester’s $125,000 contribution to the campaign to overturn same-sex marriage rights in California, the organization issued a statement in August declaring that it would “hold all AALS events at the Marriott to ensure the maximum participation by our members.”

Boycott advocates have cited the AALS as an example for the State Bar of California and Conference of Delegates—which are scheduled to meet at the Hyatt in September—to emulate.

Prager explained yesterday that the AALS “did not breach any contractual arrangement” because it had the option of selecting which hotel would serve as the “headquarters” for the event under its contracts, and that it still offered rooms at the Manchester Hyatt to attendees.

She said that the group’s purpose in exercising its option to hold its events at the Marriott was “to ensure that faculty would feel comfortable attending the meetings, and we wanted to have the meetings in a hotel that would not bring people into personal conflict into personal conflict about whether they would attend the meeting,” but she emphasized that “it was the nature of our contract that shaped our ability to change our plans.”

Take that party-of-the-first-part-Manchester-Grand-Hyatt!

[Meredith R. Miller]

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