Jun 24, 2022 • 32M

Do schoolchildren have First Amendment rights?

The student protest that started it all.

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Appears in this episode

Matthew S. Schwartz
Michael Vuolo
Celebrating the accidental guardians of the First Amendment. For regular updates on the legal stories that shape our lives, visit unprecedented.substack.com.
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John and Mary Beth Tinker — teenagers in Iowa during the mid-1960s — wore black armbands to school one day as a symbolic protest against the Vietnam War. They were both suspended, and later sued the Des Moines school district for violating their First Amendment rights.

The armbands may seem mild compared to the vocal walkouts we see today. But at the time, it was described as “a disturbing situation within the schools.” In this landmark case, the Supreme Court weighed whether freedom of speech extends to public school students.