The Washington Post

Scalia questions CTIA’s ‘secret’ identity

Antonin Scalia cracks up the telecom lawyers. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Time Inc. )

In a footnote in an opinion on a rather obscure case on Monday, the droll Supreme Court justice dropped a dry little aside that cracked up only a tiny subsection of Washington — telecom lawyers. Scalia affixed a footnote to a mention of “CTIA — The Wireless Association,” the name of the trade association that represents wireless companies.

“This is not a typographical error” he clarified in the footnote. “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.”

Scalia apparently was being cheeky about the branding of CTIA, which once was shorthand for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, but now, following in the footsteps of institutions from the AARP to KFC, only goes by its shortened moniker (alas, the CTIA didn’t return our calls about Alito’s take on what’s known in linguistic circles as an “orphan initialism”).

Perhaps Scalia can weigh in next on the transition of the artist formerly known as “Snoop Dogg” to “Snoop Lion.”

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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