Texas Wesleyan Law Review

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One of the first cases that Sandra Day O'Connor heard as a newly appointed Supreme Court Justice was Widmar v. Vincent, arguably one of the more important free speech forum cases. Voting in the majority on Widmar, she began a journey during which she would author over fifty free speech opinions, including some of the most influential. If, as she tells us, context matters, then a look at Justice O'Connor's rugged roots will reveal the foundation of the many themes that move through her free speech jurisprudence, as indeed through all of her decisions. Part II looks at those roots from growing up on a ranch in the southwest to being the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. Part III reviews the basic steps and tests the Court uses in free speech cases. Part IV surveys Justice O'Connor's work in the area of forum analysis. Parts V and VI examine the other variables in the analysis: content-selectivity and government interest. Part VII gives a broader look at her influence at the intersection of free speech and other doctrines, such as intellectual property. Part VIII concludes that Justice O'Connor's influence on free speech has been significant, reflecting her background, and proving that context does indeed matter.



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