US Supreme Court are not scientists.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Science!
Stashed in: Science Too
Whenever you scratch your head about the Supreme Court, keep in mind this page of examples of them demonstrating how sometimes they explain things that need no explanation and at other times they oversimplify ("DNA is important").
Here they define words using other words they have not defined:
Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (1997)
While some allowances must be made for the fact that this case was in 1997, and the Internet wasn't the ubiquitous monster it is now, you cannot help but laugh at this decision's summation of the Internet and its various uses, delivered in Justice Stevens' majority opinion:
The Internet is an international network of interconnected computers.
I've made fun of this before, and was snottily informed by a clerk that they write these opinions "for posterity," i.e. for the future to understand what they're talking about. But in what universe will someone not know what the Internet is but know what a computer is? Or, in what universe will someone reading Supreme Court decisions and trying to understand them not have access to a dictionary for words they don't understand?
Of course, for anything we don't know now, we just google it or look it up on Wikipedia. On the Internet.
Later, the Court explains, "The Internet has experienced 'extraordinary growth.'" WHAT. WHY DID NO ONE SAY ANYTHING?
I will agree that this case is a wonderful historical document, as the Court describes the Internet in the manner of explorers finding their way through a strange new land:
Anyone with access to the Internet may take advantage of a wide variety of communication and information retrieval methods. These methods are constantly evolving and difficult to categorize precisely. But, as presently constituted, those most relevant to this case are electronic mail (e-mail), automatic mailing list services ("mail exploders," sometimes referred to as "listservs"), "newsgroups," "chat rooms," and the "World Wide Web." All of these methods can be used to transmit text; most can transmit sound, pictures, and moving video images. Taken together, these tools constitute a unique medium—known to its users as "cyberspace"—located in no particular geographical location but available to anyone, anywhere in the world, with access to the Internet.
No one tell them about blogs, that may break them.
Here, they tackle e-mail:
E-mail enables an individual to send an electronic message—generally akin to a note or letter—to another individual or to a group of addressees. The message is generally stored electronically, sometimes waiting for the recipient to check her "mailbox" and sometimes making its receipt known through some type of prompt.
Because "electronic mail" was not explanation enough.
The original article has plenty more examples.