SCOTUS Justice Kicked Off Line During Robocall Hearing

Breyer says an incoming call cut him off
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 6, 2020 1:21 PM CDT
SCOTUS Phone Hearings Are Going Very Smoothly
In this Nov. 30, 2018 photo, Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Bill Clinton, sits with fellow Supreme Court justices for a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Supreme Court has wrapped up its first week of arguments by telephone, with live audio available also for the first time. The three days of hearings were remarkably smooth, even as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participated from her hospital room and Justice Stephen Breyer was briefly kicked off the line on Wednesday, the AP reports. The 87-year-old Ginsburg is being treated at a Baltimore hospital for an infection caused by a gallstone. Breyer's brief absence from the arguments came in a free speech case involving a law aimed at protecting consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls known as robocalls. Breyer said after he rejoined the court's arguments: "The telephone started to ring, and it cut me off the call and I don't think it was a robocall."

The court Wednesday also heard arguments over Trump administration rules that would make it easier for employers to cite moral or religious objections in refusing to provide cost-free contraceptives to women, as required by the Affordable Care Act. The justices will return to the phones next week for six cases over three days. Those include President Trump’s efforts to shield his tax and other financial records and whether presidential electors must cast their Electoral College votes for the candidate who wins the popular vote in their state.

(More US Supreme Court stories.)

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