FC: Tinker v. Des Moines
1: Table of Contents pg. 2-7 Background information pg. 7-11 Lower court information pg. 11-15 Supreme court information pg. 16-19 Aftermath pg. 20-21 Works Cited
2: On December 13, 1965, some Des Moines high school students visited the Tinker home and decided that they would wear black arm bands to school on December 15.
3: The students wore these black armbands in order to protest the Vietnam War and to support the Christmas Truce that Senator Robert Kennedy called for.
4: The principals who ran these Des Moines schools had previously heard of the students' plans to wear armbands and implemented a policy that prohibited students from wearing these armbands to school.
5: On December 16, 1965, Des Moines, Iowa residents John Tinker (15 years old), his sister Mary Beth Tinker (13 years old), and their friend Christopher Eckhardt (16 years old) wore black armbands to their schools.
6: The principals also decided that any students who chose to violate this policy would be suspended and allowed to return to school only after agreeing to submit to the policy.
7: As a result, Mary Beth Tinker, Christopher Eckhardt, and John Tinker were suspended from school until after January 1, 1966--the date that this protest had been scheduled to end. | Mary Beth Tinker wearing her armband
8: On March 14, 1966, the Iowa Civil Liberties Union approached the Tinkers and the Eckhardts. Soon after, the American Civil Liberties Union offered their monetary help with a lawsuit.
9: As a result, the two families filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. The main judicial question being examined was whether constitutional protection extended to acts of symbolic speech. The District Court decided the case in favor of the Des Moines school district.
10: The Tinkers and the Eckhardts took the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Because of a tie vote, the U.S. District Court’s decision was upheld.
11: This forced the Tinkers and Eckhardts to appeal to the United States Supreme Court directly.
12: The Supreme Court concluded that the First Amendment applied to public schools and stated that administration would have to prove constitutionally valid reasons for any regulations of speech in the classroom. The Court claimed that the Tinkers and Eckhardts did not cause any disruption by wearing their armbands and that this action was considered symbolic speech. It was therefore constitutionally protected.
13: This case was decided by a 7 to 2 majority. Justice Abe Fortas wrote the majority opinion and Earl Warren was the Chief Justice at the time. | Justice Abe Fortas | Chief Justice Earl Warren
14: The only two Justices that dissented were Hugo Black and John Harlan II. Black had long believed that symbolic speech was not protected under the Constitution and therefore thought that the young adults did cause disruption in the classroom.
15: Harlan dissented because he did not find anything in the case that questioned the faith of the administrators/school system in enforcing the armband regulation.
16: In Bethel School District v. Fraser, the court slightly narrowed Tinker by ruling that indecent speech at public school student assemblies is considered unconstitutional.
17: Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier also limited Tinker—when the Supreme Court ruled that schools have the right to regulate school-sponsored newspapers for legitimate educational reasons.
18: In Morse v. Frederick, Tinker was further limited when the Supreme Court decided that schools may restrict student speech at school-sponsored events if the speech promotes illegal drug use.
19: Tinker v. Des Moines has seen many limitations on its controversial issue of students’ free speech rights, but it is still a frequently-cited Supreme Court case.
20: Works Cited | “Abe Fortas .” Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2012.
21: Works Cited | “Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 1988.” We The Students: Liberty! Conference 2010. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2012.
22: Works Cited | Seal of the United States Supreme Court. Wikimedia Commons, n.d. Web. 9 May 2012.
23: Works Cited | “Tinker v. Des Moines (393 U.S. 503, 1969) .” American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2012.