The Effects Tinker V. Des Moines School District had on Freedom of Speech and Due Process

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The Tinker v. Des Moines was significant during the 1960s and even today as it impacted students' due process, rights to freedom of speech and the operations of public schools in the United States. Guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, due process is following the rules established for protecting the rights of the respondent. Students' right to free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment but comes with limitations to what is acceptable in the school environment. School policies are impacted as administrators are now cognizant of the law ensuring student learning and restricting school disruptions. Certainly, the case had a momentous impact on free speech in schools where both students and school administrators have rights that depend on their compliance. Keywords: due process, freedom of speech, student learning, school disruptions.

Issue of the case

The issue of the case was if the prohibition against the wearing of armbands as a form of protest by the students in public schools violates students' freedom of speech detailed under the First Amendment. This issue was first debated by the school board. According to Iannacci (2017), "The board voted 5-4 to maintain the ban. The dispute was headed to court." The students lost in the first round where the U.S. District Court upheld the school district's prohibition against wearing of the armbands. "Despite acknowledging that wearing an armband is a "symbolic act" that falls under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, Judge Stephenson determined that the school district's concern for "the disciplined atmosphere of the classroom" outweighed speech concerns" (Iannacci, 2017). Consequently, the students and their parents appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Decision of the case

The United States Supreme Court delivered their opinion on the matter resulting to the significant and landmark win in which seven out of nine justices ruled in favor of the students. They held that students' free speech cannot be censored. "Justice Abe Fortas issued the now- famous declaration that students and teachers do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate" (Iannacci, 2017). It was found that the actions of the school district have been caused by their fear of student disruptions rather than an actual interference by protest groups. Although the students won, the dissenting justices argued that the First Amendment does not provide anyone the right to express opinions at any time. They contended that students wearing armbands in schools distracted them from their schoolwork and restricted teachers and administrators to perform their duties, so the school district had the right to discipline the students by sending them home.


Demonstrating student constitutional rights and responsibilities, and enabling schools to be conscious of the law, the Tinker v. Des Moines case is significant because it impacted free speech in schools while being supported by students' right of due process. Surely, the case is crucial as it changed the operations of public schools to guarantee student learning and limit school disruptions. Schools need to pay attention to the law so that they know their limitations as institutions while students know of their right to free speech. Students must also know that their rights are conditional, which as an example, bullying is not tolerated. Indeed, the Tinker v. Des Moines case meaningfully influenced schools today as it recognized students' constitutional rights to free speech to an extent.

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The Effects Tinker v. Des Moines School District Had on Freedom of Speech and Due Process. (2022, Dec 08). Retrieved June 23, 2024 , from

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