Behind A Justice's First Opinion: A Tradition Of Unanimity

By Cristina Violante (June 12, 2017, 7:50 PM EDT) -- "Just do it."

Those are the words — spoken by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor — that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg associates with being assigned her first opinion as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, a few weeks into her inaugural term in the autumn of 1993.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist had assigned Justice Ginsburg a thorny dispute involving the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The court was split 6-3 over whether John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. was considered a fiduciary in its handling of a complicated type of annuity contract. In her first opinion, Justice Ginsburg had the arduous task of...

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