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Scalia sticks his footnote in it

We can add another item to the growing list of Justice Antonin G. Scalia’s least favorite things: inexplicable acronyms.

In his opinion yesterday in Arlington v. FCC, Scalia was apparently peeved by the name of the wireless service provider trade group CTIA—The Wireless Association. The justice explains in a footnote:

“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 it stands for. That secret, known only to wireless-service-provider insiders, we will not disclose here.”

The organization later took to its Twitter account to politely point out Scalia’s apparent error (and his law clerks’ apparent lack of Google prowess): “CTIA isn’t an acronym. Our registered trademark name is CTIA-The Wireless Association,” the group tweeted, linking to a web page that explained that the letters once stood for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Now, the name is merely an “orphan acronym.”

The whole matter irked Temple Law Prof. David Post, who took to the Volokh Conspiracy to call Scalia’s footnote: “a really embarrassing bit of nonsense — smarmy and snarky and extraordinarily stupid.”

On the WSJ’s Law Blog, Jacob Gershman points out: “Technically, CTIA is an initialism, not an acronym.” So there you have it.



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