Tinker v. Des Moines: The Fight for Freedom of Speech in Public Schools
"It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
- Justice Abe Fortas, in Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969.
The Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District case in 1969 is considered to be a major turning point in the controversy over freedom of speech in public schools. The brewing question before the case was whether or not constitutional rights for freedom of speech and expression held applicable for students while at school. This issue was finally addressed in 1965, when Mary Beth and John Tinker, along with Christopher Eckhardt, protested the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to school. The Des Moines schools met and created a policy stating that any student wearing a black armband would be asked to remove it and would be suspended until the armband was taken off. All three students were suspended from school because of the armbands. Predictably, in the 1969 case of Tinker v. Des Moines, the liberal court ruled that the First Amendment…show more content… Many Americans, even children, joined the dispute over the integrity of the war. In November 1965, a group of people from Iowa joined a peace march organized by the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy in Washington, D.C. Within the group were John Tinker, 15 years old, and Christopher Eckhardt, 16 years old, who both went to public high schools in Des Moines. When the two boys returned to Iowa, a meeting was held at the Eckhardt house for children and adults to discuss how they were going to demonstrate their opposition of the war. It was determined that they were going to wear black armbands to not only express their objection to the hostilities in Vietnam, but also to mourn for the lives lost and to support Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s proposal of extending a