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Landmark Supreme Court Decisions Essay

929 words - 4 pages

Landmark Supreme Court Decisions

     About 32 years ago, in December of 1965, a group of adults and students
from Des Moines, Iowa gathered to show their dislike towards American
involvement in the Vietnam War. They decided to wear black armbands and fast on
December 16 and 31 to express there point. When the principals of the Des
Moines School System found out their plans, they decided to suspend anyone who
took part in this type of protest. On December 16 - 17 three Tinker siblings
and several of their friends were suspended for wearing the armbands. All of
them did not return to school until after New Years Day. Acting through their
parents, the Tinkers and some other students went to the Federal District Court,
asking for an injunction to be issued by Iowa. This court refused the idea,
forcing them to take the case to the Supreme Court. After hearing their case,
the Supreme Court agreed with the Tinkers. They said that wearing black
armbands was a silent form of expression and that students do not have to give
up their 1st Amendment rights at school. This landmark Supreme Court case was
known as Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District.
     From the case of Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. School Board obviously came
some conflicting viewpoints about the armbands. The school board said that no
one has the absolute right to freedom of expression, where the Tinkers said that
only banning armbands and not other political symbols was unconstitutional. The
school board said that the armbands were disruptive to the learning environment,
where the Tinkers said they were not. Finally, the school board said that order
in the classroom, where political controversy should be discussed, is entitled
to constitutional protection. The Tinkers believed that the armbands were worn
as the students views, and therefore should be constitutionally protected and
respected by the school. These were all important arguments in the case.
     Personally, I agree with the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the 1st
Amendment rights of the students in school. Why shouldn't students have the
same rights as other people? If the students wore obscene clothing, ran out of
classrooms, or set the school on fire in protest of the war, then yes, I could
see disciplinary action being taken against them. However, the Tinkers simply
wore black armbands. Because this was not disruptive or obscene, I feel the
school should not have punished them.
     Another landmark Supreme Court decision came in 1988 in the case of
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. In 1983 the principal of Hazelwood East
High School removed two articles from the school newspaper. He objected to
these articles because they described three students' experiences with pregnancy
and divorce. He felt that topics such as these would be inappropriate for
student...

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