Tinker v. Des Moines Podcast
Students' freedom of speech and symbolic speech rights in schools.
Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)
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Decision Date: February 24, 1969
At a public school in Des Moines, Iowa, students organized a silent protest against the Vietnam War. Students planned to wear black armbands to school to protest the fighting but the principal found out and told the students they would be suspended if they wore the armbands. Despite the warning, students wore the armbands and were suspended. During their suspension the students' parents sued the school for violating their children's right to free speech. A U.S. district court sided with the school, ruling that wearing armbands could disrupt learning. The students appealed the ruling to a U.S. Court of Appeals but lost and took their case to the United States Supreme Court.
In 1969 the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision in favor of the students. The high court agreed that students' free rights should be protected and said, "Students don't shed their constitutional rights at the school house gates."