California Bar Journal
CBJ - April 2009 #02.
State Bar declines to move convention location despite hotel boycott pressure
California Bar Journal April 2009 State Bar declines to move convention location despite hotel boycott pressureBy Nancy McCarthyStaff WriterDespite months of pressure to honor a boycott of the San Diego hotel where the State Bar will hold its yearly convention, the State Bar Board of Governors last month declined to cancel its contract and will go ahead with plans for the September meeting. "We don't have a choice," bar President Holly Fujie said flatly.
Plans to hold the meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego have come under fire because of the hotel owner's support of Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that eliminated same-sex marriage rights in California. Because Doug Manchester, owner of the Manchester Financial Group, contributed $125,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign, the hotel has been targeted by opponents of the measure.
Several legal entities, including various bar associations, the American Association of Law Schools and the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations have either cancelled scheduled meetings at the hotel or threatened to boycott the bar's Annual Meeting. In addition, numerous groups have asked the bar board to cancel its contract, but after two formal meetings to hear advice from its lawyers, the board took no action for both legal and economic reasons.
Fujie, who has expressed her personal opposition to Prop. 8, explained that the State Bar is prohibited from spending member dues to support or oppose politically divisive activities. To cancel the Annual Meeting and participate in a boycott of the hotel based on the owner's position on a ballot measure would unlawfully thrust the bar into the political arena, she said.
In addition, the bar would incur a cancellation fee of more than $425,000 if it were to renege on the contract, which was signed five years ago. Additional cancellation fees would be incurred for other planned events, including joint programming with the Judicial Council, which has scheduled its yearly meeting at the same time.
The board's decision, reached two days after the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the appeal to overturn Prop. 8, was uncomfortable for several members, who went to some length...