Paging Justice Breyer


Arguments in a technical case at the Supreme Court really resonated Tuesday when Justice Stephen Breyer’s cell phone went off.

Mobile devices are prohibited in the court during oral arguments. A spokeswoman for the court chalked up Breyer’s phone faux-paus as an oversight.

“He doesn’t usually bring his phone and he forgot,” said Kathy Arberg.

The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes was in court and tweeted that Breyer appeared “red-faced” as the justice struggled to silence the offending device.

The pinging sound — the justice apparently has decided against a more distinctive ringtone — occurred near the beginning of Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California.

Honestly, I’m disappointed a Supreme Court Justice didn’t go with something more distinctive.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. al-Alameda says:


    The possibilities are … ummm … endless.

    personally, I’d go with “Lawyers In Love” by Jackson Browne for a month, and rotate new songs each month.

  2. John Peabody says:

    “I fought the law and the law won”?

  3. Mu says:

    Luckily it wasn’t Judge Thomas and his “guillotine falling” sound.

  4. Mr. Bluster says:
  5. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    My favorite ring tone was one that an administrator in a school at which I taught in Korea had: a standard telephone ring tone followed by (in alternation) “you have a call/you have a call” and “pick up your phone/pick up your phone.”

  6. rodney dill says:

    How about from The Eagles song – Get Over It.

    The more I think about it old Billy was right,
    let’s kill all the lawyers, kill them tonight.