HISTORY
Supreme Court Analysis.docx

Along with limits on verbal and written forms of free

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Along with limits on verbal and written forms of free speech, the Supreme Court also ruled to limit some symbolic speech. In 1965, in the case of Tinker vs. Des Moines, for example, a group of students in Des Moines attempted to protest the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands. Prior to the day of protest, the school clearly stated that this was not permissible, but two students wore the armbands anyway and were immediately sent home. The parents then sued the school for violating the students’ right to free expression. Once this was taken to the Supreme Court, it ruled that the students had the right to wear the armbands--students do not lose their First Amendment rights when they walk onto campus--but dissenting and concurring opinions stated that this free expression could have distracted these students’ peers from work. Most importantly that children are not granted the full extent of the First Amendment. This case is a stellar example of a limit on symbolic speech and another limit on the First Amendment relating to age. Symbolic speech is, for the most part, protected by previous rulings of the Supreme Court as seen through Texas vs. Johnson, a case in which the Supreme Court protected the rights of Americans to burn the flag as an act of symbolic speech. Age limits on the First Amendment, however, were new and for the most part, accepted at the time of this 1965 case. Now however, as students are beginning to protest gun laws and gun regulation, this case comes back into question: are students mature enough to handle the responsibilities of the First Amendment? I say yes; students have a right to speak their minds as long as, as previously decided in the case of Schenck vs. United States, their expression does not constitute a “clear and present danger.” I believe that there is a need for education about the First Amendment, its implications, and its restraints as more and more students, like myself, are beginning to get more involved in politics and are coming of age to vote.
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  • Fall '16
  • Raymond
  • The American, Supreme Court of the United States, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Charles T. Schenck

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