Supreme Court having minute trouble with "orthogonal"

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 12 10:59:47 UTC 2010

Moral of the story - Use big arcane words, it makes you seem smarter, whether you are or not.  Boarders on abusive.

In fact the judges should not use words in public documents that they themselves do not know.  Those documents are meant for public consumption, and are supposed to be composed for that.  When I was with the govt we were supposed to keep the fog out of reports.  That should go for the robed as well as unrobed.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL7+
see phonetic spelling

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Victor Steinbok
> Subject: Supreme Court having minute trouble with "orthogonal"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The exchange sparked a couple of comments on law blogging site
>> University of Michigan law professor Richard D. Friedman discovered
>> that Monday when he answered a question from Justice Anthony M.
>> Kennedy, but added that it was "entirely orthogonal" to the argument
>> he was making in /Briscoe v. Virginia/.
>> Friedman attempted to move on, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
>> stopped him.
>> "I'm sorry," Roberts said. "Entirely /what/?"
>> "Orthogonal," Friedman repeated, and then defined the word: "Right
>> angle. Unrelated. Irrelevant."
>> "Oh," Roberts replied.
>> Friedman again tried to continue, but he had caught the interest of
>> Justice Antonin Scalia, who considers himself the court's wordsmith.
>> Scalia recently criticized a lawyer for using "choate" to mean the
>> opposite of "inchoate," a word that has created a debate in the
>> dictionary world.
>> "What was that adjective?" Scalia asked Monday. "I liked that."
>> "Orthogonal," Friedman said.
>> "Orthogonal," Roberts said.
>> "Orthogonal," Scalia said. "Ooh."
>> Friedman seemed to start to regret the whole thing, saying the use of
>> the word was "a bit of professorship creeping in, I suppose," but
>> Scalia was happy.
>> "I think we should use that in the opinion," he said.
>> "Or the dissent," added Roberts, who in this case was in rare
>> disagreement with Scalia.
> VS-)
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