I am, notwithstanding the fact that I am old enough for my wonderful children to have wonderful children (but just barely!), new to full time employment as a legal academic. One of the things that comes with such employment is the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) typically held in early January, between semesters. My first AALS meeting was last January in New York. I had a great time. Marquette hosted a reception with a chocolate fountain and blue and gold martinis. There was a great party at the Rainbow Room. Conservative profs met in the catacombs.
This academic year, the meeting is headquartered in San Diego (the Reddess approves!),and the main hotel is owned by a guy - devout Catholic - who has contributed to the referendum to ban same sex marriage in California. Certain sections of the AALS and of, there is no other way to describe it, anachronistic New Left organization known as the Society of American Law Teachers, want the AALS to move the meeting. If it doesn't, they say they won't attend events there. boycott the hotel. There is no allegation that the hotel discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.
Of course, people can refuse to do business with persons whose politics they don't like. There are very few jurisdictions that prohibit discrimination on political grounds and such bans are, in my view, constitutionally suspect.
But this ups the political ante in a way that hampers civil discourse. Same sex marriage is something that, until very recently, few people had ever thought of. Now, in the view of some, opposition to it - for whatever reason - is so odious that opponents ought to be read out of civil society.
It reflects, I think, a desire to totalize politics. Robert Araujo, writing at Mirror of Justice, quotes Christopher Dawson's observation that the totalitarian state "is not satisfied with passive obedience; it demands full co-operation from the cradle to the grave… "
I find it particularly odd that legal scholars would take such a position. Would those who want to boycott the hotel walk out of panels including those who oppose same sex marriage or believe that the few cases that have found it to be constitutionally mandated were wrongly decided?
In the end, though, Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy may have the best take on this. "Whoever thought up a boycott that requires you to be in San Diego in January," he writes, "but forbids you to attend the panels has a keen sense of how to appeal to the academic mind."
Or to human nature in general.