Essay - When the founders drafted the Constitution students...

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When the founders drafted the Constitution students’ rights were not one of their major concerns, and most likely it was not even thought about at all. The founders were more concerned with getting the Constitution ratified by appealing to the majority of the population, which happened to be the white, male, land owners. Students’ rights did not become a big issue until 1968 when Christopher Eckhardt, John Tinker, and Mary Beth Tinker petitioned the court to hear their case; it became the first landmark case involving students and the first amendment. Officially in the docket the case was given the name TINKER v. DES MOINES SCHOOL DIST, but around the U.S. everyone was talking about the “Tinker” case. In order to understand why the judges ruled how they did it is crucial to understand the events leading up to the court case. First and foremost the Vietnam War was raging at the time, and with it anti-war protests sparked up all across America. In November of 1965, there was a large anti-war march on Washington D.C. Following the anti-war march in December several Iowan students and adults gathered in the Eckhardt home to discuss a plan to demonstrate locally their anti-war sentiment. One option was that students would wear black armbands to school to mourn casualties of the war, and to endorse an open ended truce in the fighting. The plan was put into action and Ross Peterson wrote an article that was supposed to be published in the school newspaper explaining the armband protest. The article is never published because the school administration denies the authority to publish it. In response to Peterson’s article the Des Moines high school principals met and recommended banning the black armbands from school. The Des Moines Register runs an article that outlines the district administration’s decision to ban armbands. The public schools also run an announcement that armbands are prohibited in school. On December 16, 1965 Christopher Eckhardt, and Mary Beth Tinker wear black armbands regardless of the warnings they had received about being suspended for wearing black 1
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armbands and they are both suspended. The school board president Ora Niffenger refused to call a special meeting regarding the black armbands. The next day John Tinker also wore his black armband despite the warning of being suspended, but instead of being suspended he was just asked to leave school. Although the Tinker siblings and Christopher Eckhardt are the plaintiffs, two other students wore black armbands to school with John Tinker and were suspended and it is believed that several dozen wore the black armbands to school but were not disciplined. The Des Moines school board holds a regular meeting that is mostly concerned with the armband issue.
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  • Spring '08
  • LaRaja
  • American Politics, Supreme Court of the United States, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, Des Moines school, black armbands, Dan Johnston

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