I am a Californian. I am a Westerner. I proudly wear flip-flops.

In his dissent from the majority on today’s gay marriage ruling, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia weighed in on a central question confronting those of us in the western United States: Is California in The West?

California footwear?

California footwear?

The court, Scalia notes, contains “not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner. (California does not count.)”

If you live elsewhere, you will scratch your head, look at your map, and say “Huh?” But “The West” is a complicated place.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times (for those of you referring to your map, it’s over on the western part), Steve Lopez helps frame this:

We are so peculiar that Scalia put us in parentheses, like we had to be quarantined. (Is there any coincidence that the swing vote came from a California native, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy?)

We are west of the West, chiseled off the map and sent floating out to sea in our flip-flops and board shorts, an island of the lost and irrelevant.

For the record, I am a California native. I have a pair of office flip-flops, which I change into on hot summer days. I have two more pair at home, a main pair and a backup gardening pair that sit on the back porch, ready for me to slip into, that I might remember my California roots.


  1. Well played, Sir! I joked this morning that Scalia was placed on suicide watch. After reading some of his decision today, I am newly curious as to his intellectual health.

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