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Transcript

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

Did you know? You still have the right to freedom of speech even while in school!

Learning Objectives

  1. Summarize the facts of the court case.
  2. Identify the constitutional issue in the court case.
  3. Describe the outcome of the court case, including the Supreme Court’s decision and the reasoning for that decision.

Quick Review: U.S. Judicial System

  • The United States has three levels of courts: the district courts, appeals court, and at the top, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
  • If the losing side in a trial feels they have been wronged, they can appeal the decision to a higher court, sometimes going all the way to the Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court has nine justices and their job is to interpret and determine application of the law.

Facts of the Case

Learning Objective 1: Summarize the facts of the court case.

  • In 1965, students at a public school in the Des Moines Independent Community School District planned to protest the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to school.
  • The school heard of the plan and told students they would be suspended if they wore the armbands.
  • The students went ahead with the plan and were suspended.
  • The students’ parents sued the school district and eventually, the case made it to the Supreme Court.

Reading Checkpoint #1

The Constitutional Issue

  • The First Amendment protects the right to freedom of speech– do students have the right to free speech while in school?
  • Was the ban on armband wearing in school unconstitutional?
  • Also tackles the issue of symbolic speech-- "nonverbal, nonwritten forms of communication, such as flag burning, wearing arm bands, and burning of draft cards" (Khan, 2023).

Learning Objective 2: Identify the constitutional issue in the court case.

Reading Checkpoint #2

Outcome

  • On February 24, 1969, the Supreme Court sided with the students in a 7-2 decision.
  • The Court said that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
  • While the Court did state that there were certain limitations on freedom of speech in schools, such as actions that would disrupt school operations, they also agreed that the protest in this case was not a valid reason to restrict free speech.

Learning Objective 3: Describe the outcome of the court case, including the Supreme Court’s decision and the reasoning for that decision.

Reading Checkpoint #3

Other Related Landmark Cases

  • New York Times Co. v. United States (1971): Does preventing the publication of leaked classified government documents violate the First Amendment freedom of the press?
  • Schenck v. United States (1919): Can the government suppress free speech in wartime?

References

Khan, R. (2023, September 19). Symbolic Speech. Free Speech Center at Middle Tennesse University. https://firstamendment.mtsu.edu/article/symbolic-speech/ Oyez. (n.d.). Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1968/21 Shivaramakrishnan, A. & Patel, R. (2023, May 3). 3.14 Required Supreme Court Cases. Fiveable. https://library.fiveable.me/ap-gov/unit-3/required-scotus-cases/study-guide/rWq8ijXsVxicWG4S0iHQ