Today is the first day of Women’s History Month, and it couldn’t be starting off on a higher note. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, penned her first majority opinion since she assumed her new position last summer, for a case revolving around “a dispute between states over unclaimed money.”
The issue at hand was related to two products sold by a money transfer company– ‘teller checks’ and ‘agent checks– that customers are able to buy at credits unions and banks. When either one of these checks go uncashed, MoneyGram, which is based in Dallas, then “sends the abandoned funds to Delaware,” where the company is incorporated; however, “other states pointed to a federal law about abandoned money orders, traveler’s checks and ‘similar written instruments.’ The law says that when those go uncashed, the funds from them go back to the state where they were purchased.”
In the 23-page opinion, Jackson “sided with 30 states that argued that Delaware had no right keep hundreds of millions of dollars in uncashed MoneyGram checks for itself,” writing for the nine justices in what was a unanimous decision.
Writing that these MoneyGrams are similar to money orders and as such, should be treated the consistently under federal law, “given the history and text” of the law, “it would be strange” for an exemption to be granted for MoneyGram checks.
While this is the first time Jackson has written a majority opinion speaking on behalf of the entire court, she has drawn up minority opinions since the Court’s term began last fall.
In fact, last November, Jackson, in her first dissenting opinion, supported an Ohio death row inmate who was unsuccessful in getting the Court to review his case. “That same month, she led another dissension explaining why she deviated from the majority verdict to not put a hold on an execution in Missouri. And just this month, she disagreed with the choice to not take up a criminal defendant’s claim that his lawyer didn’t provide adequate legal representation,” REVOLT pointed out.
We are excited to hear more from our newest justice, and while this Delaware v. Pennsylvania case centered around a relatively “dry legal issue,” it is merely only one out of approximately half a dozen majority opinions that Jackson is anticipated to write in her first term before the court adjourns for summer break, which usually occurs at the end of June.