Tinker vs. Des Moines (1969)

Josie Meade & Caroline Jeffrey

Is a public school allowed to prevent students from wearing armbands as an anti-war protest?

Five students in Des Moines, Iowa planned to wear black armbands to their public schools as a protest against the American involvement in the Vietnam War. The school officials found out and immediately issued a no-armbands rule. The students wore the armbands anyway, and when they refused to take them off, three of them were suspended. They sued the school district, saying it was their freedom of expression. They lost the case at their local Supreme Court, and they filed for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Court's Ruling

The United States Supreme Court's 7 to 2 decision was that a public is not allowed to prevent a student from wearing an armband as an anti-war protest. The first Amendment, which gives citizens freedom of speech, religion, and other forms of expression, was the right in question. The Supreme Court said that the school was being unconstitutional, and wearing the armbands was an action of "free speech."

Our opinion

We both agreed that the Supreme Court was fair in ruling for Tinker, because they deserve freedom of expression.