Here a very small number of students have crisply and summarily, refused to obey a school order designed to give pupils who want to learn the opportunity to do so. Their deviation consisted only in wearing on their sleeve a band of black cloth, not more than two inches wide. Held. The group determined to publicize their objections to the hostilities in Vietnam and their support for a truce by wearing black armbands during the holiday season and by fasting on December 16 and New Year's Eve. The original idea of schools, which I do not believe is yet abandoned as worthless or out of date, was that children had not yet reached the point of experience and wisdom which enabled them to teach all of their elders. Statistical Abstract of the United States (1968), Table No. The District Court dismissed the complaint on the ground that the regulation was within the Board's power, despite the absence of any finding of substantial interference with the conduct of school activities. The law was attacked as violative of due process and of the privileges and immunities clause, and as a deprivation of property and of liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment. That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes. This complaint was filed in the United States District Court by petitioners, through their fathers, under § 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code. See also Note, Unconstitutional Conditions, 73 Harv.L.Rev. The problem posed by the present case does not relate to regulation of the length of skirts or the type of clothing, to hair style, or deportment. This need not be denied. The ban also failed to apply equally to all forms of expression since other students were allowed to wear other forms of political speech without receiving a suspension. ", "'I can see nothing illegal in the youth's seeking the elective office,' said Lee Ambler, the town counsel. address. One can well agree with Mr. Justice Holmes and Mr. Justice Sutherland, as I do, that such a law was no more unreasonable than it would be to bar the teaching of Latin and Greek to pupils who have not reached the eighth grade.
of Cal., 293 U. S. 245 (1934), is sometimes cited for the broad proposition that the State may attach conditions to attendance at a state university that require individuals to violate their religious convictions.
Another student who defied the school order and insisted on wearing an armband in school was Christopher Eckhardt, an 11th grade pupil and a petitioner in this case. Decisions since Tinker have taken a more restrictive view of free speech rights in this setting. Decided February 24, 1969. I certainly agree that state public school authorities, in the discharge of their responsibilities, are not wholly exempt from the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment respecting the freedoms of expression and association. School officials, acting on a legitimate interest in school order, should have broad authority to maintain a productive learning environment. Only a few of the 18,000 students in the school system wore the black armbands.
A concern that the speech or expressive conduct would interfere with school discipline is an example of a justification that probably would persuade a court to uphold a policy rationally connected to that concern. The Court, in its next to the last paragraph, made this statement which has complete relevance for us today: "It is said that the fraternity to which complainant belongs is a moral and, of itself, a disciplinary, force. John F. TINKER and Mary Beth Tinker, Minors, by Their Father and Next Friend, Leonard Tinker, and Christopher Eckhardt, Minor, by His Father and Next Friend, William Eckhardt, Appellants, v. The DES MOINES INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT et al., Appellees. "319 U.S. at 637.
Public school officials may regulate student speech if they do it without regard to the content of the speech. The dissent argued that the First Amendment does not grant the right to express any opinion at any time.
When the principal became aware of the plan, he warned the students that they would be suspended if they wore the armbands to school because the protest might cause a disruption in the learning environment. 174 (D.C. M.D. Roadways to the Federal Bench: Who Me? As Judge Gewin, speaking for the Fifth Circuit, said, school officials cannot suppress "expressions of feelings with which they do not wish to contend." Petitioners and their parents had previously engaged in similar activities, and they decided to participate in the program.
First, the Court concludes that the wearing of armbands is "symbolic speech," which is "akin to pure speech,'" and therefore protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. ", "The doctrine that prevailed in Lochner, Coppage, Adkins, Burns, and like cases -- that due process authorizes courts to hold laws unconstitutional when they believe the legislature has acted unwisely -- has long since been discarded. Pp. : 21DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, CITATION: 393 US 503 (1969)ARGUED: Nov 12, 1968DECIDED: Feb 24, 1969, In 1965 in the state of Iowa John Tinker and his sisters Mary Beth, Hope and Paul together with their friend Christopher Eckhardt met and agreed to wear the armbands of black color to the Des Moines school.
However, They have picketed schools to force students not to cross their picket lines, and have too often violently attacked earnest but frightened students who wanted an education that the pickets did not want them to get. In this situation, however, wearing the armbands did not undermine school discipline, so the policy was unconstitutional. 5th Cir.1961); Knight v. State Board of Education, 200 F. Supp. And, as I have pointed out before, the record amply shows that public protest in the school classes against the Vietnam war "distracted from that singleness of purpose which the State [here Iowa] desired to exist in its public educational institutions." On December 14, 1965, they met and adopted a policy that any student wearing an armband to school would be asked to remove it, and, if he refused, he would be suspended until he returned without the armband. A prohibition against expression of opinion, without any evidence that the rule is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others, is not permissible under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.