Limitations on Student Freedom: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969)

Limitations on Student Freedom: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969)

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Freedom. The concept upon which the United States was founded. When people consider the Unites States of America, they think of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression. Yet, how much freedom do Americans really have? In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, three students fought for their right to express their opinion on a current political issue– the Vietnam War. The students claimed that their actions had not caused any disturbances in the academic environment and “sued the school district for violating [their] right of expression” (“Tinker v. Des Moines,” American History). To fully comprehend the issue of freedom of speech in schools, as it is addressed in Tinker v. Des Moines, one must grasp the issues involved in free speech as well as the social controversy over the Vietnam War and the background of the case, be able to analyze the opposing arguments of the topic, and become aware of the effects of Tinker v. Des Moines on more recent cases and how free speech is approached by schools.
One important component in the understanding of Tinker v. Des Moines is having a solid background to build the story on such as knowing the political and social issues at the time. Throughout the 1960’s, the United States was involved in the Vietnam War; over this involvement, much controversy brewed amongst Americans (Overy 430-431). After seeing clips of their wounded troops in Vietnam, many Americans shifted their opinions against the war; as Richard Overy, a professor of history, writes: “[t]he Vietnam War was opposed by increasing numbers of Americans who did not see why their troops were fighting a war with no just cause.” (Overy 431). Many different protests and campaigns broke out as a result of ...


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Overy, Richard. "The Vietnam War." History: The Definitive Visual Guide: From the Dawn of Civilization to the Present Day. Ed. Adam Hart-Davis. New York: DK Pub., 2007. 430-31. Print.
Vile, John R. "Freedom of Speech." American History. (2014): n. pag. ABC-CLIO. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
“Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.” Oyez. IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
“Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District." Supreme Court Cases: The Dynamic Court (1930-1999) (1999): n. pag. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
“Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969).” American History. (2014): n. pag. ABC-CLIO. Web. 21 Apr. 2014

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