Tinker V. Des Moines

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist.
393 U.S. 503, 89 S.Ct. 733, 21 L.Ed.2d. 731 (1969).

Petitioners, three public school pupils, in Des Moines, Iowa were suspended from school for violating a school board (respondents) policy of banning the wearing of armbands. The armbands represented the protest of Government policy in Vietnam. The District Court dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the Eight Circuit Court was equally divided, therefore affirmed the decision of the District Court. Writ of certiorari was granted and reversed and remanded the decision of the Eight Circuit Court.

Student speech may be regulated when such speech would materially and substantially interfere with the discipline and operation of a school.

The petitioners decided to wear black armbands to protest the Government policy in Vietnam. The petitioner’s decision to wear black armbands violated a school board policy, which lead to the petitioner’s suspension from school. The petitioners did not return to school until after the anti-war protest period ended.

1) Does prohibiting public school students against wearing armbands, as a form of symbolic speech, violate the First Amendment of Freedom of Speech?

1) Yes, the U.S. Supreme Court found the student’s conduct of symbolic speech is within the protection of the First Amendment of Freedom of Speech.

The U.S Supreme court found by wearing armbands the petitioners did not cause any interruption in the classroom and did not impose on the rights of others. The petitioners wore the armbands to express their views on the anti-war protest in Vietnam. The petitioners protested in a quiet and passive manner. The court found the respondents failed to prove that the wearing of armbands substantially interfered with appropriate school discipline. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded the decision of the Eight...
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