Meg Penrose

Professor of Law

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“The Constitution is our guiding star in law. Nearly every American at some time or another has confidently declared: ‘It [whatever it is] is my Constitutional right.’ In this regard, our Constitution offers a very personal protection that cannot be overstated. ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ is not merely a phrase that sits atop the United States Supreme Court. Equal Justice Under Law is our Constitutional promise.”

Get to Know Meg Penrose

What drew you to the law?

I was forced into law by “the accident of birth,” a phrase made famous by the late Justice William Brennan. I grew up wanting to be a priest. I still want to be a priest, but my gender currently precludes this from becoming a reality in the Catholic Church. So, when I was trying to decide what to do in lieu of entering the priesthood, I was encouraged by my priest to enter law school. After all, lawyers are often called upon to help those who have been abandoned or judged unworthy by others, such as those in prison. In this regard, there is a clear analogy between law and the priesthood.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Students! I get energy from my students, whom I know will become the future leaders of our state and our country. Students remind me how connected legal education is to the practice of law. What we do in the classroom must be easily translatable to the real world, because in short order these individuals will be representing clients and solving real problems for real people.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?

I hope my students will learn to love the law as much I do. I hope my students will learn that it is a privilege to help others when friends, family members and clients come to us with their legal problems. Outside of medicine, legal knowledge is the most powerful tool in our society.

What did you do prior to entering academia?

I was fortunate to work for two federal judges, the Honorable Jerry Buchmeyer (a legal legend in the Dallas area) and the Honorable Jane J. Boyle. These two individuals taught me not only the importance of law but also the vital nature of justice.

What are you passionate about outside of the law?

Family, running, travel (especially by ship), the Supreme Court and all things Notre Dame.

What are your research interests?

My research mainly focuses on constitutional law issues, including the First Amendment and social media, same-sex marriage/divorce, criminal procedure and, most recently, the Justices themselves.

Publications

My publications are available on BePress SelectedWorks™.

Expertise

  • Constitutional law
  • First Amendment
  • Title IX
  • Criminal procedure
  • Habeas corpus
  • The death penalty
  • Sex discrimination
  • Religious liberty
  • The Supreme Court

Courses

  • Constitutional Law
  • First Amendment
  • Supreme Court Seminar, The Politics of the Supreme Court
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Procedure Practicum, Motion Practice

Academic Experience

  • Professor of Law
    Texas A&M University School of Law (2013-present)
  • Professor of Law
    Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (2009-2013)
  • Professor of Law
    The University of Oklahoma College of Law (2000-2009)

Education

  • LL.M. in International Human Rights, University of Notre Dame, summa cum laude
  • J.D., Pepperdine University School of Law, magna cum laude
    • Pepperdine Law Review, Managing Editor
    • Moot Court
  • B.A. in History, University of Texas – Arlington
    • Member, Women’s Varsity Basketball Team

Other Professional Activities

National Memberships

  • Member, American Law Institute
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation

Bar Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • United States District Court for the Western District Oklahoma
  • Admitted, Texas Bar 1993 (active status)

Notable Cases and Appeals

  • Heller v. City of Dallas (First Amendment)
  • Wardrip v. Thaler (oral argument U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit 2011) (capital case)
  • Escamilla v. Stephens (oral argument U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit 2014) (capital case)
  • Habeas Corpus Relief granted (Padilla v. Kentucky issue) 2012
  • Draper v. UT-Martin (Title IX and Title VII – Division I volleyball coach)
  • Wright v. Amateur Softball Association (Title VII & Olympic and Amateur Sports Act – Division I softball coach)