Tinker V Des Moines

1 January 2017

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District Constitutional issue: “Is symbolic speech by public school students protected under the First Amendment? ” Parties involved: John F. Tinker and Mary Beth Tinker, minors, by their father and next friend, Leonard Tinker and Christopher Eckhardt, minor, by his father and next friend, William Eckhardt v. The Des Moines Independent Community School District Legal background: The parents of the Tinker and Eckardt with the help of the ACLU filed suit in U.S. District Court.

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The Court upheld the decision of the Des Moines school board and a tie vote in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit forcing the Tinkers and Eckhardts to appeal to the Supreme Court directly. Summary: John F. Tinker, his younger sister Mary Beth Tinker and their friend Christopher Eckhardt all word black armbands to their schools in protest of the Vietnam War. the principals of the school issued a policy banning the wearing of the armbands and threatening suspension.

All 3 students decided to go against the policy and continue wearing their armbands leading to their suspensions. Controversy/Political consequence: The case revealed that Students do not lose their constitutional rights when they walk into a school building or partake in the education system. Although there were limitations to those rights. Ruling: The Justices ruled 7-2 against the school district. Majority: The majority opinion which was delivered by Justice Abe Fortas stated that schools would have to shows constitutionally valid reasons to limit or regulate speech in the classroom.

And that the school was allowed to forbid actions that would directly interfere with education. They held that students do not shed their rights when they enter the classroom. Dissent: Justices Hugo Black and John M. Harlan II both felt that “symbolic” free speech was not protected by the constitution and felt that the 1st amendment did not allow for speeches and demonstrations to be held anywhere at any time and that the Tinker’s were in fact being disruptive.

Opinion: I agree with the majority on this one, we as students do not lose our rights when we enter the school and we should be allowed to demonstrate within the school as per our first amendment right. The school system does not have the authority to dictate our rights. Legacy: Several Supreme Court cases have used the “Tinker test” to decide whether or not the first amendment has been used disruptively, including Bethel School District v. Fraser, and Frederick v. Morse.

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