Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969)

Des Moines School District Court Briefing Represented By Glenn Xavier

In December 1965, a large group of families located in the Des Moines School District decided that they would support a proposed cease-fire for the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands. The Des Moines Public School District met in advance, and held some hearings on its behalf. They found that this could potentially cause a disruption in the school classroom, and created a rule prohibiting students who wore the armband to school, punishing them by a suspension until they complied with the new rule. A young woman, Mary Beth Tinker, wore a black armband in clear defiance with the school’s new policy, forcing the district and school officials to suspend her. 4 others were suspended also, out of the 18,000 in the district.

In the classroom and on school grounds, children elicited many comments to the display of "truce". There was no violence, but this "school-ground-teasing" could easily become so. On December 21, 1965, the school board met again and voted to uphold the armband restriction after a few complaints from students and parents. The school board members stated that it is their job to uphold order, and provide a safe learning place for the children of America. This display of defiance and cease-fire could potentially cause disorder within the school environment. It was the school boards expert opinion that this could cause disorder.