Scalia is not a fan of Webster’s Third Dictionary, but the Supreme Court cites it like woah

February 22nd, 2012

Imply and infer are not the same thing!

JUSTICE SCALIA: Webster’s Third, as I 14 recall, is the dictionary that defines “imply” 15 “infer” -­

MR. FRIED: It does, Your Honor -­

JUSTICE SCALIA: — and “infer” to mean 16 17 18 “imply.”

It’s not a very good dictionary. (Laughter.)

We know how Scalia thinks of dictionaries.

I did a quick search, and it seems the Supreme Court has cited Webster’s Third 183 times, most recently in Brown v. EMA (Alito), Tapia v. US, Stanford v. Roche (Roberts), Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting (Roberts), Brown v. Plata (Kennedy), FCC v. AT&T, and Holder v. HLP. It is quite popular.

And speaking of dictionaries, NIno rushes to the defense of his co-author, Bryan Garner!

MR. HIMMELFARB: I mean, I guess I just have

12 to dispute that. We have Webster’s, which, you know,

13 Justice Scalia’s view notwithstanding, is viewed by many

14 people as an authoritative dictionary of English

15 language. We have got Black’s Law Dictionary which I

16 think everyone agrees is the leading law dictionary,

17 which provides as a definition of “interpreter” the

18 broad definition that we advocate here. To be sure -­

19 JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, I guess Black’s Law

20 Dictionary which — the editor of it is a — is

21 co-author with me, so I — I feel obliged to spring to

22 his defense -­

23 (Laughter.)

24 JUSTICE SCALIA: Since itisalaw

25 dictionary, presumably it ought to have taken into

1 account the cases you are referring to, many of which

2 use the word in — in this sense, right?

3 MR. HIMMELFARB: That’s true.

4 JUSTICE SCALIA: Like Garner.

From Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan.