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The Supreme Court, like so many others, has shifted to remote work since the onset of the pandemic. As such, the justices have been hearing arguments remotely over the telephone. All has been going about as well as can be expected, at least apart from one little mistake that has quickly gone viral. During a recent hearing, either one of the justices or one of the lawyers apparently decided to use the bathroom without muting, and the sound of the toilet flushing was unmistakable.
The amusing mishap occurred this past week as the judges were hearing a case on robocalls. Lawyer Roman Martinez was making a point about the content of prerecorded phone calls straying outside the original purpose of governmental debt collection when a toilet flushed. Everyone involved stayed professional and didn’t comment on the matter, but news organizations isolated the video almost immediately. Here’s an example from NBC News…
There’s been some debate after this story first started gaining traction about whether so-called serious media outlets should have covered this, but if nothing else, moments like this are at least a reminder that we’re all in this together. Many of us are adapting to the new normal and trying to figure out things like group Zoom calls and how to do our jobs under unusual circumstances. So, far we’ve gotten everything from accidental nudity in news broadcasts to a ton of really weird celebrity quarantine videos.
As for the case itself, it’s not exactly a supercharged political one, but it does have the ability to affect all of our lives. In short, the case, according to CNN, is seeking to overturn a 1991 law that greatly limited pre-recorded phone calls or robocalls. It was originally put into effect because consumers were growing increasingly angry with the growing number of messages. Some exceptions were included at the time, and in the years since, some additional ones have been added including a provision allowing the federal government to use robocalls in an attempt to collect debt.
A court ruled last year that the debt provision was unconstitutional because it limited some calls based on content and not others. Now some political organizations are asking for the entire law to be struck down so they can use robocalls to ask for political donations and/ or to inform the general public about political issues. I’m not going to comment on the substance of the case. I’ll only say I think most Americans would have strong feelings about getting more automated phone calls.