Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired a decade ago.

Noel Francisco, the lawyer charged with defending former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell for corruption charges before the Supreme Court, became flustered yesterday after looking at one woman and saying another woman’s name.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked Francisco whether or not it would be acceptable for state officials to demand payment before meetings, according to The Hill. Francisco, to his own likely permanent horror, responded:

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“There are lots of other statutes that would prohibit precisely what you are suggesting, Justice O’Connor,” he said, to audible gasps.

“That hasn’t happened in quite some time,” Ginsburg responded, referring to the fact that O’Connor retired from the court in 2006.

In a 2013 essay in Politico, Ginsburg wrote that in the 12 and a half years the two women served together, people would often get mixed up about who was who:

During oral argument, many a distinguished counsel—including a Harvard Law School professor and more than one solicitor general—began his response to my question: “Well, Justice O’Connor...”. Sometimes when that happened, Sandra would smile and crisply remind counsel: “She’s Justice Ginsburg. I’m Justice O’Connor.” Anticipating just such confusion, in 1993, my first term as a member of the court, the National Association of Women Judges had T-shirts made for us. Justice O’Connor’s read, “I’m Sandra, not Ruth,” mine, “I’m Ruth, not Sandra.”

“Justice Ginsburg, I’m very, very, very sorry,” Francisco ultimately backtracked. “Justice Ginsburg, my apologies.”


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