Tinker v Des Moines

Austin White and Cameron Osiecki


In 1965, a group of students from Des Moines met to discuss how they would publicly display their wish for a truce in the Vietnam war. Their decision was that they would wear black arm bands to school. The principle decided that any student caught wearing one would be asked to take it off and if they refused, they would be suspended. Students Mary Beth Tinker, Christopher Eckhardt, and John Tinker were all sent home from school. Through the students parents, the school was sued for violating the students' rights of expression. At first the case was dismissed by the district court, as they did not see that the school officials had done anything wrong. The court was then after picked up by the supreme court.


Justice Abe Fortas delivered the opinion that the case had won with a 7-2 majority. The Supreme Court saw that the armbands represented pure speech, and the students did not lose their First Amendment right of freedom of speech when they walked on school property. Therefore their decision was that the students had the right to wear them, as long as it did not interfere with learning.
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Showed that students have their first amendment protected and are allowed freedom of speech and assembly. Teachers and Principles cannot take that right away. One of the judges from the case was quoted saying, "Students don't shed their constitutional rights at the school house gates." This is extremely powerful, as it shows someone of the highest authority saying that students, no matter what age are entitled to their rights stated in the Amendments.