Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District Essay

1583 Words7 Pages
In the history of the Supreme Court, there have been many First Amendment cases that outline if exercises of free speech and expression are constitutional or unconstitutional. One of the most paramount 1st amendment cases is that of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969). This significant case helped shape the extension of symbolic speech, as well as ensure the freedom of speech and expression to students in schools. In December 1965, a group of Iowa residents, both adults and children, gathered to discuss ways in which they could protest American involvement in the Vietnam War, a very controversial issue at the time. The group decided to wear black armbands for the month of December as a form of peaceful…show more content…
The District Court dismissed the case, upholding the constitutionality of the school board’s decision to prohibit the students from wearing the armbands. The case later moved onto the US Court of Appeals, where a 4-4 vote upheld the lower court’s decision. They then took their case to the Supreme Court. The case was heard by the Supreme Court on November 12th, 1968 to a packed court house. The main constitutional question at hand was if a prohibition against the wearing of armbands in public school, as a form of symbolic protest, violates the First Amendment's freedom of speech and expression. Attorney Dan L. Johnson argued on the Tinker’s behalf, proclaiming that the students had the constitutional right, as per the 1st amendment freedom of speech and expression, to wear the black armbands as a form of symbolic speech. On the other hand, attorney Allan A. Herrick defended the school board’s actions, inciting that the prohibition of armbands was necessary to prevent and stifle any violence or disorder. The topic of discussion during the oral arguments centered largely upon whether Tinker’s protest was disruptive to the class environment. Johnson argued that the anti-Vietnam protest, although sparking some talk, was undisruptive to school, citing that there was no evidence of disruption in any of the classes. Herrick, conversely, argued that the Vietnam War was an inflammatory issue, and that armbands invoked violence, especially since a
Open Document