This footnote in a Scalia opinion (City of Arlington v. FCC) released this week has created a flurry of blog criticism:
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.
David Post at Volokh Conspiracy called it "a really embarrassing bit of nonsense — smarmy and snarky and extraordinarily stupid," prompting 182 comments, many amusing.
SBM Blog has no opinion on the merits of the footnote but credits it with elucidating the meaning of acronym. Thanks to the footnote's notoriety, we now know that CTIA is not an acronym but an "initialism." From a 2007 letter to the Wall Street Journal:
The front-page article about professional acronym watcher Mike Molloy ("BTW, If You Need Info About C4ISR Read This ASAP," Jan. 13) raises the question of whether an acronym must be pronounceable as a word. Yes, it must. A term exists for abbreviations, such as F.B.I., that are pronounced
letter by letter: initialism.