The Volokh Conspiracy

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Did SCOTUS Partially Edit Out The Toilet Flush?

I hear subtle differences


On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc. Around the 59:40 mark, there was an audible toilet flush in the background. The C-SPAN clip went viral:

The Supreme Court posted the audio the same day, which is now on Oyez. I've cropped out the relevant segment.

I hear subtle differences, but I may have listened to these clips far too many times, Zapruder style.

Here is the full text:

"And what the FCC has said is that when the subject matter of the call ranges to such topics then the call is transformed."

From the C-SPAN recording:

  • When Martinez says "subject," you hear someone pulling the toilet handle.
  • When Martinez says "ranges," you hear the water start to flow.
  • When Marintez says "transformed," the water sound fades.

From the SCOTUS recording there are several breaks in the audio, and when Martinez says "topics," his voice gets echoey. Am I hearing things?