Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District
393 U.S. 503 (1969)
Tinker and two other students
decided to wear black armbands to school to silently protest the Vietnam
The students didn't cause a
ruckus or interfere with school activities.
The School suspended the
students until they agreed to not wear the armbands.
The students sued, claiming
that the suspension was a violation of their 1st Amendment right to free speech.
Note that the wearing of
armbands is conduct which communicates and is still considered 'speech' for purposes of the 1st
The Trial Court found for the
school. The students appealed.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The students appealed.
The US Supreme Court reversed.
The US Supreme Court found
that the students did retain a 1st Amendment right to free speech while in
The Court found that the
school could not promulgate a rule prohibiting free speech absent any evidence that the rule was
necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the
rights of others.
Basically, there needs to
be a compelling government interest
beyond just a wish to avoid the controversy that might result from the
If there is a compelling
government interest, then the
school can limit free