Hello? Justice Breyer’s Cellphone Rings in Court

WASHINGTON (AP) —
Breyer, Supreme Court, cellphone, phone
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer speaks to an audience at the French Cultural Center, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Boston, during a forum called From the Bench to the Sketchbook. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Even Supreme Court justices forget to turn off their cellphones: A High Court argument on Tuesday was interrupted by the familiar sound of a ring chime, and Justice Stephen Breyer seemed to be the culprit.

A mildly embarrassed Breyer quickly appeared to reach down to turn it off, as a majority of his colleagues on the bench broke into smiles. Justice Samuel Alito struggled to suppress a laugh.

Cellphones and other electronic devices are strictly forbidden in the ornate courtroom – a rule that includes observers and lawyers arguing before the court, but apparently not the justices themselves.

Breyer and Justice Clarence Thomas shared a quick laugh about the incident. But it didn’t fluster lawyer Neal Katyal, who was in the middle of answering a question.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg later called the incident an “oversight” and said Breyer doesn’t usually take his phone in to the courtroom.

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