Supreme Court Cases
Tinker v. Des Moines
John Tinker of 15 years of age, and Mary Beth Tinker, 13 years of age, brother, and sister, and Christopher Echardt 16 years of age all had parents who protested the war. In an attempt to copy their parents the teenagers come up with a plan to let everyone at school know what they thought about the war. In order to show their protest towards the war during the holidays they wore black armbands to school. Word of the armbands quickly made its way up the grapevine until finally, the principal found out. The siblings, and Echardt were asked to remove the armbands; consequences for failing to do so were suspension until after New Year’s Day, and confiscation of the armbands. Even knowing the consequences the brother and sister team did not care, nor did Christopher, they wore the black bands anyway and were eventually sent home. They appealed to the district court arguing their rights were being violated, but ended up losing the case because the district court decided that the action of the school was reasonable. Unhappy with the results the Tinker siblings appealed to the Supreme Court.
Legal concepts- The two amendments in question are (the right to freedom of speech granted by) the First Amendment, and the (right to be equally protected under the law given to us by) the Fourteenth Amendment.
Question #1: What questions were asked of the Court? (What was the Court asked to decide?)
Answer: Is prohibiting the students from wearing the armbands a violation of their First Amendment right to freedom of speech? Is there justification for the principals actions, banning the armbands?
Question # 2: What was the decision? (How did the Court answer the questions?)
Answer: The Supreme Court ruling was seven votes for Tinker, and only two against. “The wearing of armbands was "closely akin to 'pure speech'" and protected by the First Amendment. School environments imply limitations on free expression, but here the...