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, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  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.