Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District

Case Scenario 1: Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District

Summary of Facts

It was in the month of December of 1965 when numerous learners of Des Moines planned to make public their objections towards the hostile environment in Vietnam and support for an end to it by putting on armbands. Aware of the plan, the school administration opposed the move terming it as disruptive. However, the petitioners went on to wear the armbands to the institution which had them suspended by the respondent, Des Moines Independent Community School District. The petitioners, which included Tinkers and others, filed a suit in a federal court aiming to get the defense of their First Amendment legal right of expression. The case, however, went in the favor of the school’s resolution of suspending the students as the court affirmed that wearing of armbands would disrupt studies (Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969). The petitioners thus made an appeal in the US Supreme Court.

Major Issues of the Case

The major issues include; the fundamental rights of students to engage in activities covered in the First Amendment within and out of school. The collision of the student rights with school policies and regulations which have been designed in such a way that controversy and disruption of normal undertakings by the involved students and others is lessened (Casebriefs, n.d.).

Rationale Given for the Case

The rationale for the decision of the case was that the various statutes of the law in the US provided for the expression of opinion in virtually every topic. This is line with the First Amendment of the US constitution that is integrated by the US Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. The 9 judge bench made a 7-2 vote favoring the students averring that the rights of the students enshrined in the constitution are not shed when they enter the school compound ( Casebriefs, n.d.).

Holdings from the Judges

            Seven judges formed the majority that was requisite for the ruling in favor of students. This is what the majority of judges held. Justice Fortas in held (Reversed and Remanded) that in the quest to inflict punishment on the petitioners for the behavior of passively expressing their opinion without engaging in any public disorder, Des Moines school was in violation of the First Amendment Act. They justified that even though a move may be charged by politics, students can express their opinions given that they do so devoid of infringing on the rights of other students. In concurring with the majority ruling, Justice Stewart was in agreement with the majority contending that the armbands were worn in passiveness thus the ruling that permitted the Respondent to punish students infringed on the students’ rights (Tinker v. Des Moines Podcast, n.d.). Nonetheless, J. Stewart contended that the rights of children enshrined in the constitution might not be applicable to adults.

Reaction to the Case

While I am in agreement with the US Supreme Court judgment, there are also a number of issues that the decision failed to address. One was the apparent engagement of only a majority of the protesters were from one family; the Tinkers out of the 18,000 students in the school (Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969). The school’s administration officials may have been humiliated and disrespected since they should be the individuals whom the power to declare an action as disruptive or reasonable lies upon. Finally, although the petitioners engaged “passively” in the protests, there is a possibility that the undertaking may have had untold effects on other students.