Tinker v. Des Moines

Freedom of Expression

Tinker V. Des Moines Case Summary

Wanting to protest against the Vietnam War, students decided to wear black armbands. Having heard of the plan the principal added a new school policy saying that nobody could wear armbands. He said any student that wear the armbands will be suspended until the students agreed to take it of and leave it off. The Tinker children wore it anyways and were suspended. Their father filed suit in the U.S. Distract Court. The suit asked for money for damages and an injunction to retain school officials from enforcing their armband policy. The court refused to issue the injunction saying that the school officials actions were reasonable. The Tinkers appealed their case to the U.S. Court of Appeals but were disappointed when it ended in a tie vote. As a result they decided to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has made many attempts to determine what type of symbolic speech are protected under the first amendment.


Majority Quote

The justice reasoned that neither "students (n)or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." This means that even though students are in school they still have the right of expression and speech. Students and teachers still have all of their constitutional rights even if they are in the school.


Minority Quote

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Black acknowledge that while the content of speech cannot be regulated or censored, "it is a myth to say that any person has a constitutional right to say what he pleases, where he pleases, and when he pleases." This means even thought they can't change the way of speech that nobody can really say whatever they want to say. That the Tinkers were in the wrong and that the Tinkers were distracting the students from their schoolwork.