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What was the Court's decision in Tinker v. Des Moines?

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The US Supreme Court voted 7-2 in favor of the students (Tinker), holding the students' political expression was protected by the First Amendment, and did not constitute a disruption or threat to the school environment.


Tinker v. Des Moines
involved three students who were suspended from school for wearing black armband as a passive protest against the United States' involvement in Viet Nam. The students weren't disruptive, and their behavior didn't interfere with the school's educational mission or interfere with other people's rights. They were punished simply because the school disapproved of their expression of opinion. (Oddly, the same school permitted students to wear jewelry displaying Nazi symbols.)

The Court held that First Amendment protection adhered in school because the Fourteenth Amendment selectively applied the Bill of Rights to the states, and were not abandoned in the school environment. "First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

The Supreme Court supported students' right to the expression of opinion, even controversial opinion, in the school environment, but did not abrogate the school's right to maintain appropriate order and discipline.

Later Decisions

Later Supreme Court decisions regarding students' First Amendment free speech have upheld the ability of the schools to place limitations on lewd or vulgar speech, to discipline students for creating displays that reference illegal drugs, and to place limits on the content of school newspapers, provided the newspapers weren't intentionally designed as a forum for the free expression of student opinion.

Case Citation:
Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 US 503 (1969)

For more information on this topic, see Related Questions, below.
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What color were the school uniforms at the high school represented in Tinker v. Des Moines?

The Des Moines Independent School District didn't require students to wear uniforms at that time (if they ever did). The issue had nothing to do with clothing, but with the fa

What is the correct order of the events from Tinker v Des Moines?

the sutdents were suspended for wearing armbands to protest the war the students sued the school district for the loss of free speech the students lost their case in several l

What amendment did Tinker v Des Moines strengthen?

Tinker v. Des Moines didn't really strengthen any amendments. The case involved an application of the First Amendment protection of free speech. It strengthened individual rig

Who was the Chief Justice in Tinker v. Des Moines?

Chief Justice Earl Warren Associate Justices Hugo Black William O. Douglas John M. Harlan II William Brennan, Jr. Potter Stewart Byron White Abe Fortas Thurgo

What is the Tinker v Des Moines School District?

It's a case revolving around students (the Tinkers)and their friend wearing armbands protesting the Vietnam War. The school forbade the act of wearing armbands as a sign of po

Why is Tinker v Des Moines important to the school press?

Tinker v. Des Moines, (1969) represented the first time the US Supreme Court ruled on a case involving the First Amendment freedom of speech in the school environment. The Cou

Was Judicial Activism or Judicial Restraint used in the Tinker v Des Moines case?

  Judicial activism was used because the Court ruled that the school policy prohibiting the students from wearing the arm bands to protest symbolically the Vietnam War vio

What did the case Tinker v Des Moines establish?

Tinker v. Des Moines was a First Amendment case challenging the school district's right to make policies restricting students' and teachers' expression of free speech in schoo

How did tinker v des moines effect society?

The case of Tinker v Des Moines has ensured the freedom of speech and symbolic speech to students so long as it does not disrupt the educational process. Tinker v Des Moines b

Who was involved in the Tinker v Des Moines case?

The petitioners (like plaintiffs) were John F. Tinker, Christopher Eckhardt, and Mary Beth Tinker, the students who protested by wearing black armbands to school. The respon

Who won in the Tinker v Des Moines case?

The people who won the Tinker v. Des Moines, (1969) case were the students (Tinker) whose First Amendment right freedom of speech was upheld by the Supreme Court. Case Citati

Which US Supreme Court justices heard Tinker v Des Moines?

Tinker v. Des Moines was one of the last cases Chief Justice Earl Warren heard before his retirement. Justice Abe Fortas wrote the majority opinion for the 7-2 decision favori

How was Amendment 14 involved in Tinker v Des Moines?

Justice Fortas quoted Justice Jackson's written opinion in West Virginia v. Barnett, (1943) to explain the role the Fourteenth Amendment played in the Court's decision for Tin