Home / General / Scalia and the West

Scalia and the West


The most important part of Scalia’s dissent is when he defines California as not part of the West. Because San Francisco and Hollywood no doubt.


This is like an even dumber version of the inevitable graduate seminar in US West history argument over what is and is not the American West.

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  • Murc

    Am I the only one who thinks these weird polemics inserted into their opinions by Supreme Court justices are nearly always jaw-droppingly inappropriate?

    I don’t just mean Scalia. I mean all of them, all the time. They often seem to wander off into areas that are either pointless or have no fucking business being in a legal opinion.

    Also: to be fair, I know personally more than one California who completely agrees with the idea that California’s aren’t really westerners, and would in fact be slightly offended if you tried to lump them into that cultural category.

    • Any state with those water politics is a western state.

      • Cheerful

        Also rodeos and deserts

        • Amanda in the South Bay

          Nope, they are fake westerners, according to an Ivy League educated Supreme Court justice from New York.

          • I’m sure Scalia has watched a lot of John Wayne movies.

            • Hogan

              Or at least a Puccini opera.

              • bad Jim

                Like Manon Lescaut, where the heroine perishes in the desert of Louisiana?

                • wjts
                • burritoboy

                  In all fairness, the writer of the original novel, the Abbe Prevost, was an early 18th century Benedictine monk. Never got to the New World, though he did escape from several different monasteries over his lifetime.

            • Downpuppy

              But not Big Valley, set a few miles from Sacramento. This is a slap in the face to Victoria Barkley!

            • Larrry

              But he probably hasn’t watched Brokeback Mountain. And as far as TV goes I’m convinced Scalia is a Duck Dynasty kind of guy, because his dissent isn’t even a dog whistle – it’s a duck call.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Who knew Uzbekistan was western? ;-)

        • IM

          No, only Ghana.

        • KmCO

          You of all people should know that the Eurasian steppe is the Wild West of the East.

          • J. Otto Pohl

            Uzbekistan isn’t steppe. It is a number of oases surrounded by desert hence its long term sedentary population in places like Bukhara and Samarkand. That is also the reason for it having a water policy dating back centuries. It is dependent upon irrigated agriculture. Kazakhstan is steppe and its indigenous population was historically nomadic and semi-nomadic up until being forcibly settled by the Soviet government in the 1930s. Right now I am in Kyrgyzstan which is almost all mountains and also historically nomadic and semi-nomadic.

      • urdsama

        Honest question: what do you mean by “those water politics”?

        If you mean water issues driving politics in general, then much of the US will be a western state in the near future…

    • SatanicPanic

      Probably depends. I can imagine Bay area people believing they are part of the PNW. Out in rural California everyone seems to think they’re from Texas

      • Linnaeus

        I can imagine Bay area people believing they are part of the PNW.

        Of course, someone from the Bay Area making that claim here would get….a somewhat heated response.

        • Keep those Californians out of the Pacific Northwest!

          • Linnaeus

            Don’t Californicate Oregon!

            • That was basically the uniting philosophy of Oregon in the 1980s. I assume it still is more or less.

              • Linnaeus

                I think it’s attenuated somewhat – at least it didn’t seem as strong as I was told it was when I lived in Oregon (but that was only for three years). But then again, I lived in a university town, which probably makes a difference.

                • AlanInSF

                  Yea, do we not root for Ducks when Bears and Cardinal fail us, do we not sing the praises of Brooklyn-on-the-Willamette, have we not drunk of the Henry Weinhards and the Rainier Ales? We are brothers.

            • Don’t Oregon-ize Cali!

          • pianomover

            I’m born and raised in the Bay Area. Not the Pacific Northwest.

            • Warren Terra

              Fair enough – but where would you draw the line? I’d argue the Yreka area is more connected to Oregon in several ways than to San Francisco.

        • SatanicPanic

          NorCal vs PNW… rooting for indignation

          • Linnaeus

            Oh, you’ll get it in that matchup.

      • postmodulator

        Out in rural California, everyone actually is from Oklahoma, if you go back like two generations.

        • SatanicPanic

          This is true. It may be even more true in Orange County.

          Except for us Mexicans.

          • The Dark Avenger

            Lots of people came from TX and AR and other points east as well to rural CA. I’m surprised at the number of people I know here whose family roots go back past OK statehood to when it was a territory.

            • UncleEbeneezer

              Speaking of Central CA, reposting this here since you probably missed it at the old artists thread:

              Hey DA, we finally got up there to Shake Campground last weekend. Absolutely stunning!! So cool to be right in amongst the Sequoias (even more so than my trip to SNP.) And it was in low-mid 80’s which was a nice change from the heat we’ve been dealing with recently. Only downsides were 1.) 1-2 hours of mosquito activity (though I’ve experienced MUCH worse) and 2.) yokels firing guns in the distance, wrecking the silence and making everyone a little nervous (but that was only on one of the days.)

              • The Dark Avenger

                Glad you had a good time there. You were less than 40 miles from where I live on the Valley floor, although more than an hours drive from my abode due to the twisty mountain roads.

                • UncleEbeneezer

                  It was amazing how the terrain went from brown and dead down in Springville, to lush and green just 30 minutes up the road.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  Apparently it’s worse now going east of Springville. Our part of the Sierra Nevada got about 8% of the usual rainfall, the worst in the state, IFAIK.

        • Coconinoite

          No. Four generations here; great-grandpa came from Tennessee in 1885 to Fresno County.

      • Fighting Words

        Hi! Lifelong Bay Area resident here. I grew up in the East Bay, where I currently live, and worked in SF for about 13 years.

        I can say with pretty good authority that NOBODY in the Bay Area (well, I am pretty sure the vast majority of Bay Area residents) considers themselves part of the Pacific Northwest. I do see a lot of cars with (University of) Oregon stickers, but that’s because I think there is a large Oregon alumni base in California.

        Speaking of which, I have relatives in Oregon and Washington State. Both of which have a completely different vibe and culture than the Bay Area.

        Now, I know that there are some residents in the Northernmost California counties that want to create the state of Jefferson, but that is far north of the Bay Area.

        I should also add that when I was growing up, people from Oregon and Washington State HATED Californians, and were not shy about letting you know it.

        • SatanicPanic

          :) Lifelong Southern California resident who can’t resist poking Northern Californians here

          • Fighting Words

            Ha! Well, at least you didn’t use the abominations that are “San Fran” or “Frisco.”

            But I do have co-workers from LA, and I finally have the opportunity to poke them about basketball (not that I would ever do such a thing…)

            • SatanicPanic

              I think even us SoCal people know better to refer to it as “San Fran” or “Frisco”. Those are just embarrassing.

              • Rob in CT

                I learned that “Frisco” was doubleplusungood from watching Eddie Izzard (Dress to Kill).

                Educational act, that. World history and everything.

                • trollhattan

                  Living in the region, after a while one tires of being told “Don’t say ‘Frisco or San Fran,’ say ‘The City'” and is thus compelled to use Frisco. That’s entertainment.

                  And also, too, did they check with New York prior to appropriating The City? Methinks not.

                • Thom

                  But the real old time SF people did call it that. Herb Caen made it a felony.

                • Rob in CT

                  Yeah, where I grew up (southern CT), there is only one “The City” and that’s NYC.

                  When I heard that bit in the Izzard act, I just smiled and shook my head a bit. One, I’m not even a New Yorka, merely the son of one, so whatever. But two: yeah, ok, whatever you say there, San Fran. *eyeroll*

                • Richard Hershberger

                  “did they check with New York prior to appropriating The City?”

                  Did New York check with Rome? Although come to think of it, Rome probably should have checked with someplace else, which should have checked with someplace else, going back to Ur.

                • Fighting Words


                  Grrrr…(re San Fran…)

                  My family goes back several generations in Northern California. The use of the term “the City” for San Francisco makes sense because for a several generations, San Francisco was the only city with a “city feel” in Northern California. If you wanted to go shopping for nice things, see shows, go to museums, eat at fancy restaurants, do touristy things, San Francisco was the only game Northern California. Even today, few people would disagree that San Francisco is the cultural center of the Bay Area (although that’s slowly changing). My parents grew up in Napa (which was MUCH MUCH MUCH different back then), and if you wanted to do anything fun, you would “‘go to the City.'”

                • Tehanu

                  As an Angeleno for the last 50 years, I’m happy to say that (a) nobody in So. Calif. really gives a damn what San Franciscans think about L.A., and (b) I call it Frisco all the time, just to get back at them for all the times they responded to my statement, “I’m from L.A.” with “Ewwww! It’s so awful there!” At least we don’t have to live in little boxes, and it’s not 48 degrees F. every day in July.

      • advocatethis

        When I was a kid I asked my mom where the Pacific Northwest was located (I’d been reading about Sasquatch’s range) and she told me it included the bay area. I didn’t find that comforting then and I haven’t found it persuasive since, although I might argue that the Pacific Northwest starts at Point Reyes.

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      California is probably several states in one, culturally-there’s lots of room for differing opinions here.
      But Scalia’s barb must hurt for those conservatives in the Central Valley. Even those God fearing Murricans aren’t real westerners!

      • The Dark Avenger

        It’ll be amusing to see the reaction, if any, in the local papers, especially the Fresno Bee and the Bakersfield California.

    • CaptainBringdown

      I am a native Californian, although I’ve lived most of my adult life on the east coast. I never lived more than a mile from the ocean, from SoCal to SF and the central coast in between. I definitely self-identify as western, much to my NJ native wife’s amusement.

      • Linnaeus

        The funny thing is, were the situation reversed, i.e., you lived on the west coast with a New Jersey native wife who lived most of her adult live on the west coast, she very likely would continue to identify as a New Jerseyan/ite. Or at least an east coaster, if my experience with such people is any guide.

        • CaptainBringdown

          Undoubtedly. Her amusement stems from a Scalia-like attitude about California, not that I’ve lived for 20 years on the east coast.

    • tsam

      I find that and the passive aggressive shots at the other side of the court’s opinions horribly inappropriate. This is where judicial temperament should come into play–they’re writing for the record of the United States of America. The sniveling and snotty attitude doesn’t reflect well on the supposedly “supreme” court.

      • KmCO

        This. His faux-populism here is just pathetic, and positing that California (California!) “doesn’t count” as the West just because he says so is a classic dick move. Nino is finding it harder and harder to hide his true colors behind rhetoric.

      • Ahuitzotl

        The sniveling and snotty attitude doesn’t reflect well on the supposedly “supreme” court.

        But it does reflect the current state of the USA admirably, I think

    • J. Otto Pohl

      Culturally California feels very different than Arizona. It isn’t a matter of politics. Orange County, CA is very conservative and Arivaca, AZ is inhabited by old hippies and represented by Raul Grijalva. But, having lived in both I would say Arivaca has an Old West feel to it that CA does not. I would actually group southern Arizona with New Mexico and Sonora in Old Mexico rather than with CA.

      • Linnaeus

        The works on regionalism that I’ve read like Garreau’s The Nine Nations of North America and Woodard’s American Nations group southern California in with much of Arizona, New Mexico, and some of Texas.

      • ColBatGuano

        This is true of Eastern Washington versus the Seattle area. In fact down the entire west coast, until just south of LA, if you travel more than 100 miles inland you have an entirely different political culture. Fortunately the majority of people on the west coast live in the tiny slice.

      • The Dark Avenger

        Yeah, if you want an Old West feel in CA, you have to go to Bodie or perhaps some of the old Gold Rush settlements now abandoned up near the Northern Sierra Nevadas.

      • advocatethis

        My experience is that all of California that I’ve visited east of the Central Valley can feel like the “old west,” with different parts of CA feeling like different parts of the vast west. The eastern Sierra is different from the gold country of the western foothills, but no more than Nevada is different from Montana.

    • AlanInSF

      I feel like those of us in the more-or-less coastal sliver are all residents of the Great State of Westcoastia, yea, even our odd and distant brethren in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and…well, maybe not San Diego. The Bay Area is, I believe, the southernmost region of North Westcoastia. The border is probably somewhere near Palo Alto.

      • urdsama

        What? Trust me, having lived in both the Bay Area, LA and Orange County areas, there is no such thing as Westcoastia.

        The Bay Area appears to have a massive inferiority complex when it comes to LA. And LA, for the most part, couldn’t care less about the Bay Area.

        The transition from one to the other was jarring to say the least.

        And the LA / Orange County rift is a fun one too. Two And A Half Men nails it pretty well with the “Grandma doesn’t do Anaheim” joke.

        • KmCO

          The Bay Area appears to have a massive inferiority complex when it comes to LA. And LA, for the most part, couldn’t care less about the Bay Area.

          If that’s true, it’s really strange to me. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in California–I don’t have relations out there or career reasons for visiting, and I’m much more of an East Coast person anyway–but from what I have seen, there is no question in my mind that San Francisco is by far the superior city by almost every measure (possibly excluding COL, but even L.A.’s pretty damn high in that regard).

          • The Dark Avenger

            What’s the difference between a cup of yogurt and L.A.?

            The cup,of yogurt has an active culture.

    • StellaB

      Southern California and Northern California are can’t be lumped together, much less lumping the north in with the PNW. Southern California was populated after the Civil War by Confederates and the Bay area (and PNW) were populated by Northerners. We retain that divide. Southern California was until recently very much a part of the southwest, but the Bay Area, never.

  • SP

    That’s pretty much in line with the typical “No True Scotsman” approach right-wing talk radio audiences apply to conservatives. Roberts ruled against us? Not a conservative! McCain is against torture? Not a conservative! Westerners are conservative, California is not, so California is not in the west.

  • AlanInSF

    Does this mean Ronald Reagan was a Fake Westerner?

    • petesh


    • wjts

      Reagan was born and raised in Illinois, a state that is noticeably east of the Mississippi river.

      • calling all toasters

        Kaskaskia,Illinois is WEST of the Mississippi. Therefore the entire concept of the West is invalid and must be overturned. Surely Congress will quickly draw up a new one, though.

        • wjts

          Of course it’s invalid. Why else would you have Northwestern University on the shore of Lake Michigan? It makes less sense than Chewbacca living on Endor with a bunch of Ewoks.

          • It makes less sense than Chewbacca living on Endor with a bunch of Ewoks.

            We’re never just going to admit that Chewbacca was a furry?

          • Linnaeus

            Why else would you have Northwestern University on the shore of Lake Michigan?

            Because it’s located in the O.G. Northwest.

            • wjts

              I see you’re in the pocket of Big Historical Geography. I really did expect better of you, man.

              • Linnaeus

                The past is never dead. Just ask John Roberts.

            • calling all toasters

              James K. Polk said it should be a couple of hundred miles north of Vancouver, and you can’t get any more O.G. than James K. Polk.

              • allium

                MAXIMUM MINNESOTA! 90º OR FIGHT!

            • AlanInSF

              I’m so old, I remember when Buffalo had buffaloes, and when prototypical westerner Davy Crockett lived in Tennessee.

      • FridayNext

        Next thing you’re going to tell me is that George W. wasn’t a real Texan. That he was born and raised in some effete, liberal enclave like New Haven or Kennebunkport. That’s just crazy talk.

    • Downpuppy

      Reagan was no more a fake westerner than he was a fake president.
      No less, either.

  • trollhattan

    Nino conveniently overlooks Prop 8. So unlike him.

    Hey, it’s just 38 million citizens, not any significant portion of the US overall. And also, too, not a cow to be seen anywhere in the nation’s top dairy state.

  • sharculese

    And the ruling was 5-4. That would suggest, contrary to what he’s implying, that residents of coasts and graduates of elite institutions represent a vast diversity of American opinions.

    I don’t think he believes any of this for a second. This dissent is addressed to the legal community or the public. It basically might as well start FW: FW: FW:.

  • Davis

    He’s apparently become unglued.

    • Robert M.

      I would argue only with your chosen tense.

  • Ahenobarbus

    Geography is your destiny.

  • Alex.S

    What the hell is a “Westerner”? Does anyone actually define themselves or others like that in America? Can someone be an Easterner?

    • Oh god yes. I absolutely define myself as a westerner. I don’t think people define as Eastern per se but they certainly define as New Yorkers or New Englanders. And then of course there’s the South and that regional identity.

      • Patrick

        There’s a noticeable linguistic tic in Seattle of referring to the East Coast as ‘back East’. As in “Bob had a three day business trip back East to NY”, even when Bob is a native born Washingtonian.

        Don’t know if Loomis or others can attest to this occurring further down the West coast, but it speaks to a settler mentality that’s propagated down through time.

        • Linnaeus

          There’s a noticeable linguistic tic in Seattle of referring to the East Coast as ‘back East’.

          Sometimes that gets expanded to places that are not on the East Coast. My dissertation advisor, who is a native Seattleite, knows that I make trips to visit my family in the Midwest a couple of times a year and has asked me from time to time when I am going “back East” or how things are doing “back East”.

          • Another Seattleite here (“from the Elliott Bay Area”). All my adult life I and other locals have unironically referred to as “Back East” anywhere east of or on the Mississippi River, which includes Minneapolis and St. Louis, let alone such corrupt Byzantiums as Chicago.

            I don’t know why we’re worrying about this, though; didn’t you hear that words no longer matter?

        • CaptainBringdown

          People in California very frequently said “back east” when I was growing up in the 70’s. Don’t know if they do any more.

          • Fighting Words

            I still hear “back east” frequently.

            • tsam

              We all say it.

          • TribalistMeathead

            Hell, I say “back east” since moving to Chicago from DC.

        • I grew up in Los Angeles, but most of my mother’s family remained in New England. We definitely employed “back east” in the 1950s. At the end of the decade we lived for a year in a sleepy suburb of Seattle, and referred to LA as “down south.” When we returned, Seattle became “up north.” Since I’ve passed my entire life a short drive from the Pacific Ocean, I’ve never had occasion to speak of “out west” …oh, crikey, Scalia is right!

          • Patrick

            Hawaiians! Scalia knows the only Hawaiians embody true American heartland values.

    • Linnaeus

      Regional identity is a tricky thing – different areas of the US have stronger identities than others and different regional and sub-regional identities overlap, which can cause both reinforcement of one identity and conflict with the other.

      Migration complicates that even further. I live in the West, but I didn’t grow up here – I moved here as an adult. Am I a Westerner? I don’t feel like one, but how much of that is due to my own inclinations and how much of that is due to cultural messages that tell me I’m not?

      • wjts

        Agreed. I lived in Denver longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, but I don’t identify as a Westerner. I joke that I have birthright citizenship as a Midwesterner and later became a naturalized New Englander and am now well on my way to becoming a Yinzer.

        • KmCO

          I was born and raised in the lower Midwest*, and maybe it’s a regional thing, maybe it’s an age thing (I am just one degree north of 30), but I don’t really have a strong sense of being a Midwesterner. There are times when I feel an affinity with my background, like when I miss the warmth and friendliness of Midwesterners compared to the relative chilliness of Coloradans. But I don’t have as part of my identity construction a strong regional orientation like a lot of Westerners and Southerners purport to have. In just a couple of months I am going to be a citizen of the latte-sipping East Coast, though, and even though I’d never pass for a native East Coaster in a million years, I can only imagine that I will have fun imagining myself as one among the cool kids for a while.

          *This is a point of debate. I personally think that my hometown and section of my home state more properly are considered the Southern Plains rather than the Midwest, with more in common culturally and economically with Oklahoma and parts of Texas than with, say, Iowa and Illinois. But everyone has always insisted that it’s the Midwest.

          • Linnaeus

            maybe it’s a regional thing, maybe it’s an age thing (I am just one degree north of 30), but I don’t really have a strong sense of being a Midwesterner.

            This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve read a bit of scholarship on the Midwest (history, cultural studies, literature reviews, etc.) and much of this scholarship points out that Midwestern regional identity is relatively weak, due to some degree (as you allude to in your comment), that the region itself is hard to define. And it’s long been a transitional place, which doesn’t help.

            • Lee Rudolph

              When I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, the whole state was definitely in the midwest (and dictionaries of the time attest to consensus on that). Except in the memories of people of my spacetime cohort, I don’t think it is any more (though I suspect that most people in the state who live south of Medina wouldn’t say they’re “easterners”, either; but I have no data to back up that suspicion).

              • KmCO

                I have some family in western Ohio, in towns considered part of the Dayton area. I’ve also been to that area a few times to visit them, and I can’t imagine anyone considering it “eastern” in any meaningful way (apart from its time zone, which is somewhat arbitrarily assigned).

            • wjts

              I think there’s a kind of core/periphery dynamic at play. In my experience, you find a relatively strong Midwestern identity in the states that border the Great Lakes (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) plus Iowa and a weaker one (if you find it at all) in neighboring states like the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Missouri.

      • SatanicPanic

        Probably a mix of both. Where I grew up in California it wasn’t unusual that my neighbors had horses in their backyard. But I have relatives from Orange County who claim they are “country”, probably because no one has the heart to contradict them.

        • weirdnoise

          As late as the 1970s (and perhaps beyond — I moved out of the area in 1971) parts of North Orange County were ranches and farms (and even Orange orchards), so it isn’t entirely a stretch.

      • nixnutz

        Dave Alvin’s “West of the West” (covers) album makes a pretty good case for a distinctly Californian identity. I lived out there for 15 years and I have a feel for it, I think, but I’ll always be a New Englander even though I haven’t lived there for 27 years.

        • Linnaeus

          I kinda feel inbetween. In some ways, I do identify as a Washingtonian and to a lesser degree a Pacific Northwesterner (I’ve lived in the region for about 18 years now). But I’ll always be a Michigander, too.

    • somethingblue

      I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all — Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.

    • What the hell is a “Westerner”?

      Someone who lives in Westeros.

      • Murc

        Excuse me, but the term is “Westerosi.”

    • sparks

      Amusingly, when I read old Variety back issues from the 1920s “The West” was considered Chicago. California was the Pacific Coast, or West of The West.

    • tsam

      I live in Washington. I’m a Westerner. It’s strictly a matter of geography, though I don’t talk all funny like southerners and northeasterners. So…does that answer your question?

      • Fighting Words

        Yeah, but you guys still refer to soda as “pop.” So there’s that.

        • Linnaeus

          “Pop” must be maintained against the insidious encroachment of “soda”. And none of this “the 5” shit. It’s I-5.

          • tsam

            All of this is inarguably correct.

            • Tyto

              Except for the “5”/”I-5″ part, yes.

              Another Southern California regionalism: we are the only people I have met who express distance almost exclusively in terms of time.

              • Hogan

                Skip: Hi.

                Angel: Hi.

                Skip: You know you’re not supposed to be here, right?

                Angel: Yeah. What about him?

                [points to prisoner]

                Skip: Oh, him? Oh, he’s supposed to be here. Do you have any idea how monstrous a guy’s gotta be before he gets sent to us? We’re a very high-end institution.

                Angel: And it’s your job to keep him here?

                Skip: Yeah.

                [extends hand]

                Skip: I’m Skip.

                Angel: Angel.


                Angel: So… ah… you live in here, Skip?

                Skip: No, I commute. It’s not too bad, though. About twenty minutes.


                Angel: What keeps him in the fire?

                Skip: My will.

          • steverinoCT

            With its update last year, my Magellan GPS (HQ in Santa Clara, CA) has started referring to interstates as, for example, “the I-95”.

            • weirdnoise

              As a transplant from Los Angeles to Sunnyvale (adjacent to Santa Clara) I’ve never heard anyone use “the 5” (or “the X” where X = a highway number) here, except when I slip up and use it myself. I’d wager Magellan is bending toward the average preference of their customers, an arguably smart move on their part. (Better would be to adjust to the usage of the immediate location — perhaps that’s next year’s model.)

              • Tyto

                My brother is also an LA-Sunnyvale transplant, and noticed that folks up there simply say “5” or “237” without an article.

                • Linnaeus

                  People in southeast Michigan do that a lot, especially with respect to the interstates, so you’ll hear things like “get on 75” or “it’s west on 696”.

          • wjts

            “Pop”? “Soda”? What are you talking about? That stuff’s called “coke”.

    • advocatethis

      I define myself more as a Californian, but I’m certainly a westerner, too.

  • Latverian Diplomat

    Is Seattle part of the “West”? Portland, OR? Denver? Are GLBT people who live in the “West” not part of the “West”?

    This just another way to say “People who disagree with me are not real Americans.”

    • calling all toasters

      The West is where the vegetables are green and you can pee right into the stream.

      Also, no poofters.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        plus lots of guns and a couple of “colored folks” around for menial labor/comic relief

      • rea

        where the vegetables are green and you can pee right into the stream.
        . . . and that’s important.

        • trollhattan

          Back to the shadows, the both of you.

          R.I.P. Phil Austin

      • Two great comedy bands in one!!

    • solidcitizen

      In the West, it’s LGBT.

      Had never heard of GLBT until I went to a conference in Philly and was told that’s the old-school, East coast style.

      • Got to keep the dudes first after all.

        I always use LGBT.

        • weirdnoise

          It’s easier to pronounce.

          • mikeSchilling

            Unless you pronounce it “glibt’.

    • mikeSchilling

      The part of California that’s really the West is the eastern half.

  • Cheerful

    Interesting that he uses criteria for diversity – geography and religion, that used to be politically crucial in choosing Justices but are now much less relevant. And ignoring the diversity of the current court in areas like gender and race, that apparently are of little importance in making the court representative.

  • ajp

    I love the slippery slope argument, and the constant invocation of polygamy by the likes of Rick Santorum (by the way-polygamy is in the Bible Rick, what do you have against the Bible?).

    My response to the slippery slope argument is not to fight it. It’s to shrug. Yeah, polyamorous lifestyles are increasingly acceptable (I mean, not mainstream per se, but I know people who are polyamorous). If that leads to polygamy…so what? Our understanding of marriage can certainly change. My concerns about polygamy are mostly related to the historic concerns of: oppression of women and religious tomfoolery that seems inextricably bound up with polygamy, at least in the past.

    But I look at people I know today. Secular people, so no religious element. Female feminists who are polyamorous. And I think, well, that vaporizes my two biggest concerns. What I’m left to wonder about is the legal regime. Can you imagine a 3+ way divorce? Regular divorces can be a nightmare.

    This guest blogger at Balkinization touched on the topic http://balkin.blogspot.com/2015/06/same-sex-marriage-and-plural-marriage.html

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Once the mainstream/grifter GOP realizes that plural marriage means that their congressional caucuses and lobbyists can all be in a big fat gey marriage, and thereby make use of “spousal privilege” to keep from testifying against one another…they’ll be all over it like flies on shit.

    • postmodulator

      What I’m left to wonder about is the legal regime. Can you imagine a 3+ way divorce? Regular divorces can be a nightmare.

      Speaking as someone who is, I guess, sort of in the polyamory “community” in some way, polyamory drama can either be really epic or almost nonexistent. The most common thing you see is people finding out that polyamory isn’t actually for them, the hard way.

      • matt w

        But drama aside, it seems like existing divorce laws would have to go through some changes to deal with a case where one person leaves a three-person marriage and the other two remain married.

        • Lurker

          It can be more complicated than that. Assume a five-person community, with two three-person marriages where one person is party to both marriages. Now, one of the persons is divorcing. How do you share the property and guardianships?

          A more important point is that a three-or-more-person marriage with community property is, essentially, an immortal corporation as there is no reason to have it dissolved at the death of one of the spouses. Such thing can span generations and accumulate considerable property.

          It is mainly for these reasons that I don’t think that polyamorous relationships should get legal protection. It would be a very good vehicle for fraud and tax-evasion.

    • UserGoogol

      The legal technicalities of polygamy are what are going to make the slippery slope a bit complicated, yes. With gay marriage you can just replace bride and groom with spouse 1 and spouse 2 and everything else stays the same. (At least since stuff like coverture had already been taken out of the picture.) A relationship between two people and a relationship between three people are fundamentally different, even if each is equally entitled to legal recognition.

      • MikeN

        All those libertardians (hmmm, doesn’t roll off the tongue like “libtards”) should check out Bob Heinlein’s great paean to libertarianism, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. My favourite there is line marriage, where you just keep adding younger partners, alternating sexes.

  • Shakezula

    Is he offering to step down to make room for an evangelical judge from Mississippi?

  • Barry Freed

    I really want to go up to Scalia and give him the old vaffanculo gesture right back at him but I see that’s been taken care of.

  • Rob in CT

    Tyranny of the unreal-Americans (of which Scalia is one, of course, but nevermind) again, I see.

    bah, Latverian Diplomat beat me to it.

  • Todd

    Also, viable Republican candidate Scott Walker has now called for a constitutional amendment to allow states to ban gay marriage. What a political genius! Everyone should be worried about his candidacy, because of his razor-sharp instincts and ability to react to changing circumstances in a way that really advances his cause nationally. It can’t be true that he is just a Mike Huckabee without the folksy charm.

    • Rob in CT

      I really hope Walker is every bit the loser candidate lots of smart people say he is, but then why the FUCK did Wisconsin elect him, refuse to recall him, and then re-elect him? WHY?

      • Todd

        Mike Huckabee was governor of Ark. for 12 years. Both are off-year states. Lots of states don’t ask for much from their governors. And they get it.

      • Linnaeus

        Reasons include, but are not limited to: 1) retrograde suburban Milwaukee racial politics (I’ve heard it said that Milwaukee is, compared to other cities in the region, where those cities were about 30 -40 years ago), 2) a compliant local media, 3) low voter turnout.

        • Downpuppy

          And of course, (4) A flood of Koch money

          • Linnaeus

            Not least of which.

          • UserGoogol

            Campaign money only goes so far. (Remember “UNLIMITED CORPORATE CASH.”) Campaign money goes towards campaigning, and all the campaigning in the world will only work if people find your message persuasive. People aren’t just dumb sheep who will vote for whoever the TV tells them to vote for.

            But it certainly helps augment the other three.

        • Hayden Arse

          There is also the regressive Fox River Valley, home of the John Birch Society. The Wisconsin of Bob Lafollette is also the Wisconsin that gave us Joe McCarthy. I am sure that there are other states as divided as Wisconsin, but probably not many that have maintained that divide for as long, or as starkly. Having grown up in Madison, these cultural divides play out in high-school rivalries, urban vs. rural issues, internecine divisions within the strong Lutheran communities.

          Scott Walker is just another Joe McCarthy who has risen to prominence by being antagonistic to organized labor.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      …or like PeeWee Herman, but with less gravitas.

    • Shakezula

      Please proceed, Governor.

  • So, a Jersey-born New Yorker knows that California isn’t the West.

    He should ask Justice Kennedy, born & raised in Sacramento.

    • IM

      He should ask Justice Kennedy, born & raised in Sacramento.

      So that is the background.

    • Kennedy is exercising judicial restraint by not popping Scalia in the nose.

      • mikeSchilling

        Or at least saying “Chill, dude.”

  • TribalistMeathead

    This is like an even dumber version of the inevitable graduate seminar in US West history argument over what is and is not the American West.

    The words of a man who’s never participated in an argument over whether Florida is part of the South.

    • NewishLawyer

      I thought anything below Orlando/Tampa was considered Northern territory because of all the retirees.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        I thought it was part of Latin America due to the presence of Miami?

    • advocatethis

      Reading “The Warmth of Other Suns” removed any doubt I may have held as to whether Florida is part of the south.

      • stryx


      • TribalistMeathead

        Spending any period of time in the Panhandle is a convincing argument as well.

    • The further north you go the more South it gets.

    • Ken

      Those arguments should trail off over the next fifty years, as Florida is reduced to the Panhandle.

      • MeDrewNotYou

        I giggled. Does that make me a bad person, wishing Jeb and Rick Scott’s state drown?

  • I live west of West Street. Am I a true westerner?

    • Linnaeus

      Whoa! Meta!

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      only if you’re north of E Street

      • Sparks fly on E Street when the boy- prophets walk it, handsome and hot
        All the little girls’ souls grow weak when the man-child gives them a double shot
        The schoolboy pops pull out all the stops on a Friday night
        The teenage tramps in skin-tight pants do the E Street dance and everything’s alright
        Little kids down there either dancin’ or hooked up in a scuffle
        Dressed in snakeskin suits packed with Detroit muscle
        They’re doin’ the E Street Shuffle

        Unfortunately, no.

        • matt w

          His best song is Tenth Avenue Freezeout.

          • It’s been done before.

          • Linnaeus

            True, that.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            you do wonder what would have happened if Landau hadn’t gotten hold of Springsteen and made him “serious”- though I would miss that “Darkness/River/Nebraska/USA” run

    • Honoré De Ballsack

      “Git along, little taxi, you can keep the change–
      I’m riding home to my kitchen range–
      Way out West on West End Avenue.”


      • Where I am on West Street is psychically west of West End Avenue (since West Street is generally the last avenue before the Hudson, while WEA is east of Riverside Drive) but physically east of West End Avenue (because of the bend in the Hudson shore at 14th Street) but maybe not (because Manhattan north is 17 degrees east of north).

        In summary: go away, you bother me.

  • John not McCain

    Strange that he complains there’s not a single evangelical. They accept converts very easily. He himself could convert if he thinks it’s so damn important that they be represented on the court.

    • Linnaeus

      “Well, I’m not saying that I would be a heretic…”

      • MikeN

        Yeah, whenever these conservatives are complaining about how unrepresentative the SC is, they never say “six Catholics”.

  • Funkhauser

    Insofar as this is a shot at Tony Kennedy, I should note that Sacramento, where Kennedy grew up and practiced, and Stockton, where Kennedy was a law prof, are closer to cowtowns of the FJ Turner/Western type than are Orange County or the Bay Area, discussed above.

    • NewishLawyer

      Currently Sacramento is considered the new “Brooklyn/Oakland” because people are getting priced out of the immediate Bay Area.

      • trollhattan

        I can stop that thus: Ahem, Bay Area equity refugees, yesterday was 102, today will be 101. Thank you for your attention. Now go check out Tracy.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    He’s gone full McReynolds, hasn’t he?

  • NewishLawyer

    I have lived in California (San Francisco) for 7 years. I still identify as a New Yorker.

    • The Dark Avenger

      When I was growing up here, there were 3 levels of identification to classify people in their obituaries in the local newspaper:

      Native of A: That would be where you were born. If you were born and died here, you’d be a native.

      Native of X, and long-term resident of A:

      That’s if you moved here from wherever you where born and spent a good part of your life.

      Native of X and resident of A.

      This was used for people who didn’t live here for a long while, like only 10-12 years or so, or not the majority of their lifetime.

      They once made an exception in the obituary of a woman who died at the age of 35, and called her a resident despite the fact that she lived here for 30 years. It was clear to my teenaged mind when I read this that it was posthumous punishment because I knew the woman in question had killed herself.

      • Tehanu

        I was born in Chicago but we moved to California when I was 5 … which makes me a native for all practical purposes (even counting the one horrible year I spent in Alabama). I know people who’ve lived here for many years who still identify as New Yorkers, but they’re the only ones who care.

        • mikeSchilling

          Funny, your name sounds Gontish.

    • TribalistMeathead

      I have lived in [place other than New York] for [period of time]. I still identify as a New Yorker.

      – Every single New York transplant.

    • TribalistMeathead

      Mrs. Meathead gives me no end of grief over the fact that I tell people I “grew up” here, despite moving to GA when I was 14. I think that fits the definition of “growing up” somewhere. Also, I’d really rather not tell people I lived in GA for 8 years.

      • NonyNony

        Huh. I moved to Ohio when I was around 14. I still say “well I didn’t grow up here, but I’ve lived in Ohio most of my life”.

        • postmodulator

          Identical biography here — moved to Ohio at 14. I just say “I’m from lots of places.”

      • John F

        my general rule is that you “grew up” where you lived when 5-18 years of age.

        • mikeSchilling

          If I ever grow up, I’ll let you know where that was.

  • randy khan

    This really wasn’t his best work, outside of the footnote where he talks about putting a bag over his head. The aside about elitism and the demography of the Court is but one example. The two parentheticals – both with second-level parentheticals of their own – on page 8 are even worse.

  • FlipYrWhig

    I guess Nino really misses Sandra Day O’Connor.

  • Aziraphale

    I personally am more worried by the fact that 6 of the judges are Catholic.

  • wengler

    A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

    Funny, I don’t remember Scalia complaining when he was picking the President.

    • mikeSchilling

      Or ignoring the 15th Amendment.

  • FarmerG

    I checked in which states SSM was illegal prior to today.

    No state of the 11 states West of Texas/Nebraska/Kansas/North and South Dakota had existing laws against SSM.

    Scalia’s whole argument was a straw man.

  • Sly

    Mr. Obergefell, what did you expect? “Welcome, sonny?” “Make yourself at home?” “Marry my son?” You gotta remember that these are just simple farmers. People of the land. The common clay of the new West.

    You know… morons.

  • The West starts at the Rockies, not that stupid river most can’t spell.

  • Anna in PDX

    What struck me as funny apart from the general schadenfreude was that this stupid “joke” or whatever it is, nasty aside, seems like a direct refutation of his spittle-flecked dissent of yesterday where he railed against the idea of words such as “state” having variable meanings. If one of our Westernmost contiguous states is not “West” then he is violating his own prime directive.

    Just, he’s funny when he is mad. I am having a nice Friday here.

  • gusmpls

    So is Scalia (born in Trenton, Harvard educated) offering to step down so that Obama can appoint a Protestant Westerner who graduated from, say, the University of Wyoming Law School?

  • Breadbaker

    I agree with the premise that this particular Supreme Court is very narrow in its experience. All but one were federal circuit judges (and the other one was Solicitor General). Only one was a trial judge. None was a state court judge. None ever held elective office. None are Protestants (which is obviously a first; they often were all Protestants).

    But here’s the deal, Nino: they were all appointed by a President of the United States (I’d say a “duly elected” President except that doesn’t really apply to Roberts and Alito) and all were confirmed by the United States Senate. That Constitution you’re so fond of claiming is the foundation of everything (the one that doesn’t contain a word of the basis for Shelby County and half of whose Second Amendment you ignore) contains no further qualification for a Supreme Court justice.

    If you don’t like that there are too many New Yorkers on the court, I’ll draft your resignation. I have a strong recommendation to President Obama on an African-American western trial court judge who has also been a state court judge to replace you. I think he might even be a Protestant. I’m sure you’ll endorse him; he was a George W. Bush appointee.

    • mikeSchilling

      Roberts and Alito were nominated in W’s second term, after an election he actually did win.

  • Denverite

    I’ve lived west of the Mississippi in non-California states that are considered to be the West or Southwest for three of my four decades (rounding here), and I’ve always considered California to be part of the West. Parts of it are poncy, urban, pretentious parts to be sure, but hell, Texas has Highland Park and Bellaire and I’m sure there’s some tony parts of Austin closer to Beverly Hills than Ft. Worth, so who the fuck cares?

  • mikeSchilling

    Scalia is a Lord of the Rings fan and knows that Numenor is the True West,

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