• A toilet flush was heard during Supreme Court oral arguments made via teleconferencing leading to a deluge of Twitter jokes
  • This is the first time in history that the Court heard arguments remotely and streamed audio of its proceedings
  • The Court was hearing a case about robocalls in Barr v. American Asssociation of Political Consultants, Inc.

The Supreme Court proved that no one was immune from the problems of conference calling as an adaptation to the problems of the novel coronavirus pandemic when, during its arguments Wednesday (May 6), a toilet flush was heard during the live audio feed.

The flush was heard as Roman Martinez, representing the American Association of Political Consultants, was presenting his case before the court.

As of press time, the source of the very audible flushing sound has not been identified.

The Court was hearing arguments about the constitutionality of an exception that the government gave itself on the recent federal ban on robocalls during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The AAPC is arguing that the exception is illegal and is asking the court to strike down the whole ban.

Twitter was immediately flooded with jokes.

SC Twitter
Jokes flood twitter as a toilet flush was heard during historic Supreme Court oral arguments in a teleconference call. Screencap from Twitter

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai had to defend the FCC, saying that the agency did not interpret the toilet flush as a judgement of the Court. The flush was heard just as Martinez said the words “what the FCC has said” during the arguments.

Throughout the arguments, the justices had difficulty with the teleconferencing. The justices are still adapting to new technology being used to allow the Court to hear arguments remotely, a historic first.

Justice Stephen Breyer was cut off briefly from the call when he said his phone began to ring. He later joked that it was not a robocall.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor apologized to Chief Justice John Roberts when she did not immediately answer when he called for her after apparently failing to unmute.

In April, the Supreme Court announced that justices will start hearing oral arguments via teleconference, a historic first from the Court forced to adapt during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Court also, for the first time, allowed the general public to hear the arguments in real time by streaming a live audio feed.

In a press release, the Court was scheduled to “hear oral arguments by telephone conference” on May 4 to 6 and May 11 to 13. The schedule includes several cases for the release of President Trump’s tax records.