THE SUPREME COURT has produced many memorable moments in its 231-year history, but today was surely the first time a toilet audibly flushed in the background during oral arguments.
Such is the reality of conducting Supreme Court business during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, for the first time ever, the Supreme Court began holding oral arguments over the phone. So it’s fitting that one of the cases argued this morning was itself about phone calls.
Robocalls, to be precise. Federal law has banned automated calls to cell phones since the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, though with limited effectiveness. (At the time the ban was passed, cell phones were a novelty and seemed to merit special protections. In the years since, of course, they have become the default for most American households.) In 2015, however, Congress added an exception for cell phone robocalls seeking to collect on debts owed to the federal government.