A Bizarre Case of Anti-Scalia Derangement Syndrome

by Ed Whelan

The epidemic of Anti-Scalia Derangement Syndrome continues unabated. A particularly bizarre instance of ASDS struck a Volokh Conspiracy blogger yesterday.

As I outlined, Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion (joined by Justices Thomas, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan) in a ruling issued yesterday in City of Arlington v. FCC. Early in his opinion, Scalia refers to an entity named CTIA—The Wireless Association and appends this 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.

On the Volokh Conspiracy, law professor David Post lambastes the footnote as “a really embarrassing bit of nonsense—smarmy and snarky and extraordinarily stupid.” Alas, Post’s name-calling better applies to his own post.

According to Post:

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[.]

Post supposes that neither Scalia nor any of his clerks nor any of the other joining justices or their clerks managed to figure out what “CTIA originally stood for” (Post’s phrase) or “what it stands for” now (Scalia’s). He seems not to consider the obvious alternative possibility that Scalia’s talk of a “secret” is lighthearted (as the matter of what the letters stand for is irrelevant to the purpose of his footnote, which is to confirm for the attentive reader that the ridiculously ungainly name of the organization is indeed its actual name, not a typo).

What’s funnier is that the unhinged Post doesn’t even get his facts right or complete. According to the Wikipedia page of CTIA—The Wireless Assocation, CTIA “originally stood for Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association” (emphasis added), not “Cellular Telephone Industry Association.”* Then, from 2000 to 2004, CTIA stood for “Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association.” And now, according to the organization’s blog, CTIA is an “orphan acronym” that stands for nothing.

(I learned about the organization’s blog post from this BLT item by Tony Mauro, which shows its own signs of ASDS in its bizarre title, “Scalia Fumes Over Name of Telecom Trade Group.” Yes, that footnote is just seething with anger.)

* 10:25 a.m.: I now see that the Wikipedia entry has been edited since yesterday to make a change to this sentence, so Post accurately quoted the (evidently) mistaken Wikipedia entry.

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