Landmark Supreme Court Decisions

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Landmark Supreme Court Decisions

Scott Nagao
3/10/97
Period 7

About 32 years ago, in December of 1965, a group of adults and students from Des Moines, Iowa gathered to show their dislike towards American involvement in the Vietnam War. They decided to wear black armbands and fast on December 16 and 31 to express there point. When the principals of the Des Moines School System found out their plans, they decided to suspend anyone who took part in this type of protest. On December 16 - 17 three Tinker siblings and several of their friends were suspended for wearing the armbands. All of them did not return to school until after New Years Day. Acting through their parents, the Tinkers and some other students went to the Federal District Court, asking for an injunction to be issued by Iowa. This court refused the idea, forcing them to take the case to the Supreme Court. After hearing their case, the Supreme Court agreed with the Tinkers. They said that wearing black armbands was a silent form of expression and that students do not have to give up their 1st Amendment rights at school. This landmark Supreme Court case was known as Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District.

From the case of Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. School Board obviously came some conflicting viewpoints about the armbands. The school board said that no one has the absolute right to freedom of expression, where the Tinkers said that only banning armbands and not other political symbols was unconstitutional. The school board said that the armbands were disruptive to the learning environment, where the Tinkers said they were not. Finally, the school board said that order in the classroom, where political controversy should be discussed, is entitled to constitutional protection. The Tinkers believed that the armbands were worn as the students views, and therefore should be constitutionally protected and respected by the school. These were all important...
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