In 1965, five students at public schools in Des Moines wore black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam. They were subsequently suspended from school. John Tinker, Mary Beth Tinker, and Christopher Eckhardt challenged the suspension in court as a violation of a student's right to free speech. In a landmark decision in 1969, the United States Supreme Court agreed with them and ruled that the Constitution guarantees public school students a right to symbolic, nondisruptive political expression.
Further information about this important decision may
be found in the following sources, available at the library:
Be the Judge, Be the Jury: Tinker vs. Des Moines,
by Doreen Rappaport. Harper Collins, 1993.
Tinker v. Des Moines: Student Protest,
by Leah Farish. Enslow, 1997.
The Struggle for Student Rights:
Tinker v. Des Moines and the 1960s,
by John W. Johnson. University Press of Kansas 1997.
May It Please the Court: The Most Significant
Oral Arguments Made before the Supreme Court since 1955,
Peter Irons, ed. The New Press, 1993.
United States Reports, Vol. 393, p. 503.
Contains the actual text of the decision.
Numerous articles about the students and the
case appeared in local newspapers:
Des Moines Register, 12/17/65, p.1
"Liberties Union Supports Students on Arm Bands,"
Des Moines Register, 12/18/65, p.1.
"Extend Ban on Arm Bands,"
Des Moines Register, 12/22/65, p. 1.
"Secret Talks on Arm Bands,"
Des Moines Register, 1/2/66, p. 1.
"Board Hears Attorney on Arm Bands,"
Des Moines Register, 1/3/66, p. 1.
"Ban on Arm Bands Upheld,"
Des Moines Register, 1/4/66, p. 1.
"Judge Backs School Ban on Arm Bands,"
Des Moines Tribune, 9/1/66, p. 1.
"D.M. Arm Band Protest Upheld,"
Des Moines Tribune 2/24/69, p. 1.
"3 Who Took a Stand See Results of Effort,"
Des Moines Register, 5/9/92, p. 1M.
"ACLU Honors Three Former Iowa Students,"
Des Moines Register, 12/1/93, p. 6M