Schoolhouse Gate Project

This February, join student journalists from across the country to tell stories about young people and their right to free speech.

About Tinker v. Des Moines

A LANDMARK SUPREME COURT RULING ON BEHALF OF STUDENT EXPRESSION

In 1965, Iowa teenagers Mary Beth Tinker, her brother John, and their friend Christopher Eckhardt staged a peaceful protest of the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to their public schools.

School officials announced that students who wore armbands had to remove them or face suspension. The Tinker siblings and Eckhardt refused to remove their armbands. The district suspended them until their protest ended.

Represented by the ACLU, the students and their families filed suit against the school district, claiming that the school had violated the students’ free speech rights.

In 1969, the Supreme Court heard the case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District 393 U.S. 503 (1969).

The Court ruled 7-2 that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

The Tinker v. Des Moines ruling set the precedent that student free speech is protected by The First Amendment.

Kristy Cates