Fifty years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on student speech that was emblematic of its era, but has also reverberated and remained relevant for generations of public school students—and administrators—that followed.What's that you say, lefties? No one's kicking kids out of class for wearing MAGA gear?
In Tinker v. Des Moines Community Independent School District, the court ruled 7-2 to uphold the right of several students in Des Moines, Iowa, to wear black armbands in school to protest and draw attention to the Vietnam War. The court said the armbands were symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment as long as school was not substantially disrupted...
Writing for a 7-2 majority in the Tinker decision, Justice Abe Fortas said, “In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students.”
And in the opinion’s most often quoted line, Fortas wrote, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
Note: on November 4, 1980, I wore a black armband to school to protest the taking of the American embassy hostages in Tehran a year before. No one gave me any hassle about it.