Kristee Glace
TINKER ET AL.
v.
DES MOINES INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL.

No. 21.
Supreme Court of United States.
Argued November 12, 1968.
Decided February 24, 1969.

Background: In December 1965, Des Moines, Iowa John F. Tinker (15 years old), John's younger sister Mary Beth Tinker (13 years old), and their friend Christopher Eckhardt (16 years old) decided to wear black armbands to their schools during the holiday season and by fasting on December 16 and New Year's Eve in protest of the Vietnam Warand supporting the Christmas Truce called for by Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The principals of the Des Moines schools heard about their plan and adopted a policy banning the wearing of armbands to school on December 14th. Violating students would be suspended and allowed to return to school after agreeing to comply with the policy. The Petitioners all decided to violate this policy and were suspended from school until after January 1, 1966.
Decision: The court's 7 to 2 decision held that the First Amendment applied to public schools, and that administrators would have to demonstrate constitutionally valid reasons for any specific regulation of speech in the classroom. The Court held that in order for school officials to justify censoring speech, they must be able to show that [their] action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint," allowing schools to forbid conduct that would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school. The Court found that the actions of the Tinkers in wearing armbands did not cause disruption and held that their activity represented constitutionally protected symbolic speech.
Impact on Education: This was a decision by the United States Supreme Courtthat defined the constitutional rights of students in U.S.public schools. The Tinker test is still used by courts today to determine whether a school's disciplinary actions violate students' First Amendmentrights.
Quiz Question: What test is used by the courts to determine whether a school’s disciplinary actions violate student’s First Amendment rights?
Answer: The Tinker Test






Chelsea Moody
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District
Supreme Court of United States
Argued: November 12, 1968 Decided: February 24, 1969

Background:
In efforts to publicize their objection to the hostilities in Vietnam, a group of adults and students made a truce to wear black armband during the holiday season and fasting on December 16 and New Year’s Eve in Des Moines, Iowa. When the principals of the Des Moines schools received news of this they implemented a policy on December 14 stating any student wearing an armband will be asked to remove it; and if they refused they would be suspended. Three students, John F. Tinker, a 15 year old high school student, Christopher Eckhardt, a 16 year old high school student, and Mary Beth Tinker, a 13 year old middle school student, and the sister of John wore their armbands to their schools. Christopher and Mary Beth wore theirs on the 16th of December and were suspended and John wore his the following day—they were all suspended from school until they removed their armbands. None of these students returned to school until their “truce” period had expired; which was after the New Year.

Decision and Rationale:
The courts came to the agreement that as long as students were not disturbing the learning of other students then any representation they wanted to promote or a cause they wanted to support was fine. Using cases such as Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U. S. 536, 555; Adderley v. Florida, 385 U.S. 39, which pointed out that the freedom of speech and expression was their constitutional right. These particular students were not causing any type of disturbance to their classrooms; therefore, they should not have been suspended from school for expressing their views upon this particular matter.

Impact on Teaching:
If students decide to corral together in efforts to make a statement, as long as they are not causing a disturbance to the other students, the classroom, or the school then they are permitted to do so. Teachers have to know the difference when it comes to an organized statement against something and an effort to make a violent impact with the clothing, bands, pins, or stickers student promote. As long as the material under scrutiny does not hinder the learning, encourage negativity, or bring about any type of conflict then it is permissible. This impacts the teachers because they too often promote things they are proud of, i.e. voting stickers, if this case was found in complete favor of this particular school district, then the right wear that stick that we so proudly place upon us after we’ve voted would not be allowed.

Question:
When is it acceptable to ban certain paraphernalia or items that students are promoting for a cause they support?

TINKER ET AL.
v.
DES MOINES INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL.

No. 21.
Supreme Court of United States.
Argued November 12, 1968.
Decided February 24, 1969.

Summary

In December 1965, some students, from Des Moines, Iowa, decided collectively, to wear black armbands to school as a symbol for protest of the hostility in Vietnam during the holiday season from December 16, 1965 to January 1, 1966. The principals of the schools got word of their plan and on December 14, 1965 they implemented a policy that any student wearing an armband would be asked to remove it and if they refused, they would be suspended. The students involved in this case refused to remove it and were suspended. They did not return to school until after January 1st. The father’s of the children suspended communally filed a complaint in the United States District Court.


Decision

Initially the claim was dismissed by the District Court based on the fact that the schools placing the band prevented possible disruption in the schoosl. The case went to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit and with a split decision; the District Court’s ruling remained. On November 12, 1968 the case went to the Supreme Court. On February 24, 1969 the Supreme Court ruled that the school violated the First Amendment rights of the students by placing them on suspension for wearing the armbands. Their right to free speech was violated.


Impact on Education


It is important to understand that there is a difference between organized protest and catastrophic demonstration. In a New York Times article written October 12, 2008 entitled, “Buttons and Bows”, by Stanley Fish, it mentions a case where the New York City Department of Education Chancellor, Joel Klein, announced that his administration would enforce a longstanding policy prohibiting teachers from wearing campaign buttons while they were at work. To the teachers this was considered a violation of the teacher’s First Amendment rights. The Tinker case is referred to in this article so basically it brings to reality that there will always be a concern or battle over the First Amendment and the rights for both teacher's and students to do things in the school system. Forty years after the Tinker case, we still see evidence of violation of First Amendment rights in the school system. Unfortunately as long as personal opinion is in existence someone will always judge one’s decision forcing a violation to one’s First Amendment right. It is important to understand that there is a difference between organized behavior and catastrophic demonstration.

Quiz Question

1. Who implemented the decision to ban the armbands from the schools in Des Moines, Iowa?

2. In 100 words or less, as a teacher in a public school, how would you feel if your First Amendment rights were violated?
Submitted by Sandra Crum


Randall McCarty
TINKER ET AL.
v.
DES MOINES INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL.

No. 21.
Supreme Court of United States.
Argued November 12, 1968. Decided February 24, 1969.

Background
In December of 1965 a group of individuals, including adults and teenagers, decided to protest the hostile events taking place in Vietnam by fasting and wearing black armbands. The armbands would be worn by students to school to publicize their displeasure. In mid December 1965 two Tinker siblings and Christopher Eckhardt showed up to their Des Moines school with their armband and were suspended. As it turned out, the Des Moines principals had heard of the actions taken by this group and thus issued a policy banning arm bands with a penalty of suspension if not adhered to. Students were not allowed to return to school until they did so without wearing the arm bands, which took place after New Year’s Day.
Decision and Rationale:
A complaint by students’ fathers was filed in the U.S. District Court which asserted the school system refrain penalizing the petitioners and compensate for nominal damages. However, the compliant was dismissed and the constitutionality of the schools actions was upheld. Though referred to another case, which denies prohibition of certain garments unless it "materially and substantially interferes with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.", it was dismissed. //Burnside// v. //Byars,// 363 F. 2d 744, 749 (1966).][[http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=15235797139493194004&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr#[1]|[1]]] Eventually an appeal was filed, but still the District Court’s ruling was affirmed.
Implications for Teachers:
Teachers should be well versed in the matter of dress code and allowed attire for their particular school. Some schools are more lenient on forms of expression through attire than others, which is why it is important to consider the type of school, its regional location, and occasion. Being conscious of the school’s rules and regulations regarding attire is paramount to avoiding any conflict that can be misconstrued as a biased claim of inappropriateness. Schools must also be careful to act with the constraints of the law as to what they can permit and prohibit. Within reason, a student, or teacher for that matter, should be able to express themselves freely with their attire so long as it does not affect the goals and mission of the school to educate the students.

Quiz Question: T / F According to Tinker v. Des Moines, the disciplinary action taken by the school principals was constitutional?