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Someone Apparently Used The Toilet During A Supreme Court Hearing

Giving new meaning to the Supreme Court "vacating" a ruling.

Posted on May 6, 2020, at 2:28 p.m. ET

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Supreme Court justices in 2018.

Like people around the United States, the justices of the Supreme Court are having to adapt to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

After initially postponing oral arguments in response to the outbreak, the court began holding audio hearings this week — allowing the public to listen in live for the first time ever.

On Wednesday, the justices heard arguments in two cases: one about access to birth control and the other about robocalls.

The latter case, Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, involves a challenge to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act's ban on robocalls from political groups. They argue the law violates their constitutional rights to free speech under the First Amendment.

One hour into the hearing, Justice Elena Kagan was grilling Roman Martinez, the attorney acting for the political groups, about the nature of the content on these phone calls when someone could be heard, well, answering the call of nature.

Yes, right as Martinez was speaking, a toilet flushed on the audio livestream.

"What the FCC has said is that when [TOILET FLUSHES LOUDLY] the subject matter of the call ranges different topics," said Martinez, "then the call is transformed, and it's a call that would've been allowed, which is no longer allowed."

Neither Martinez nor Kagan addressed the sudden interruption, and they instead continued with their exchange. Perhaps they didn't hear, or perhaps it was just too awkward.

But those listening along most definitely heard.

Did a toilet just flush during #SCOTUS oral arguments?!?

Did we just hear a toilet flush on the Supreme Court's teleconference? Listen for yourself.

The sound of the toilet flushing during Supreme Court arguments is so loud that I have to believe the culprit was IN the bathroom, though not necessarily on the toilet.

It's not clear who the mysterious flusher was — although Martinez seems an unlikely suspect given he was midsentence. (He also denied being the culprit to a Law360 reporter.)

BuzzFeed News reached out to the media spokesperson for the court to ask who was not muted at that point during the call, but did not immediately receive a response.

It was not clear whether the justices were alone when they dialed in or were with clerks.

The next person to speak on the call was Chief Justice John Roberts, who immediately turned questioning over to Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was hospitalized Tuesday night after a nonsurgical treatment for a gallbladder condition, called in on Wednesday from the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Funnily enough, just two days ago the satirical website the Onion joked that Justice Kagan might be multitasking while listening to arguments.

Elena Kagan Mutes Microphone So She Can Listen To Supreme Court Arguments While Washing Dishes

Let the Supreme Court be your example: Make sure you're on mute while not speaking during work calls.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.