Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District


Significance: The Supreme Court's decision strengthened the rights of freedom of speech and symbolic speech for students.

Three Des Moines, Iowa, students protested the Vietnam War by wearing black arm bands to school in violation of the school's policy. After they were suspended, the students challenged the policy, claiming it denied them their First Amendment rights. Justice Abe Fortas wrote the opinion for the 7-2 majority, voiding the school's policy. The Supreme Court held that the wearing of arm bands, absent any other behavior that might subject the students to discipline, was an acceptable form of protest. It found no relation between the regulation and school discipline and stated that student opinions could not be confined to those officially approved. Justices Potter Stewart and Byron R. White concurred, and Justices Hugo L. Black and John M. Harlan II dissented.