Professor of Law, Texas A&M University

What drew you to the law?

Originally — and by “originally,” I mean as a 15-year-old — it was a matter of personal ambition. I wanted to be the first woman elected United States senator from Georgia. And representatives needed to have legal training. So the law was just a vehicle for that political ambition. But my young thinking evolved, in no small measure because I lived in the de facto segregated South, and I became more concerned with the law’s ideal of justice. That led me to practice criminal and employment discrimination law, to pro bono capital defense work and, ultimately, to teaching.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

The moments when I can see students reconsidering long-held positions. I’m sure a lot of rethinking happens beyond my view, but there are occasions on which I am talking with a student about the principles and I can see her realize that her position won’t hold. That’s when I know we are all growing.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?

The doctrine involved is only the floor. At a minimum, I want my students to know the rules and the issues involved in the course, and I want them to be able to attack all of the legal materials associated with constitutional law or evidence with confidence. But on a larger level, I want them to emerge more articulate, more open-minded and more reasonable.

What did you do prior to entering academia?

Legal Experience

Paul Hastings, Atlanta, Georgia
Employment litigation senior associate (1995-1997)
Arnall Golden Gregory, Atlanta, Georgia
Litigation associate (October 1988-February 1995)
The Honorable Thomas A. Clark, United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, Atlanta, Georgia
Law clerk (August 1987-August 1988)
What are you passionate about outside of the law?
Naturally, my three sons. Softball. I started a team here with students, staff and faculty playing together. Soul music. The Atlanta Braves. Dancing. New York Times crossword puzzles.

What are your research interests?
Right now my focus is on the first amendment and the judiciary. Until recently, we have had judicial codes of conduct imposing professionalism on our judges, but those who favor a political judiciary are systematically challenging the codes under the first amendment. At the same time, we’ve seen an upswing of social media use by members of the judiciary. I’m exploring where our first amendment jurisprudence should go with respect to these issues.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Law, Texas A&M University