A Really Dumb Scalia Footnote

Stuart and Jonathan have both commented on the legal analysis in today’s City of Arlington v. FCC opinion from the Supreme Court, about which I have nothing to say.  I want to direct your attention to footnote 1 in Justice Scalia’s opinion for the majority.  He has just introduced one of the parties, “CTIA-The Wireless Association,” and in the footnote he continues:

“This is not a typographical error. CTIA—The Wireless Association was the name of the petitioner. CTIA is presumably an (unpronounceable) acronym, but even the organization’s website does not say what itstands for. That secret, known only to wireless-service-provider insiders, we will not disclose here.”

This is a really embarrassing bit of nonsense — smarmy and snarky and extraordinarily stupid.

First:  0.45 seconds of work reveals that CTIA originally stood for the “Cellular Telephone Industry Association.”  It’s not a big mystery, “known only to wireless-service-provider insiders”: that’s what it says on the organization’s Wikipedia page.  So Scalia’s footnote communicates, to me, that he has never heard of “the Internet” and the very amazing things called “search engines” that let you “retrieve information” very, very quickly

And why that snarky remark about how it’s unpronounceable?  Let’s see … can Justice Scalia pronounce “FBI”?  (here’s a hint: “eff-bee-eye”).  DHS?    KLM Airlines?

If this were a student paper, I’d circle this and write something like:  “Really bad footnote – why highlight your own cluelessness in the very first footnote.”  From the Supreme Court, it’s really a bit embarrassing.  Reminds me, again, of what Justice Jackson said many years ago:  We’re not final because we’re infallible, we’re infallible because we’re final.

[Thanks to Peter Shane for the pointer]

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