Do you use document-based questions in your classroom?

This summer the Bill of Rights Institute is blogging a document-based question on the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines (1969). Each weekly post will feature an excerpted document related to the case, along with some questions to guide your thinking on it. Each document should be used to address the question: “Evaluate the extent to which the First Amendment should protect symbolic speech, and the degree to which that protection should be guaranteed to students in public school.”

Check out our previous posts for a case background and document #1, document #2, West Virginia v. Barnette, document #3, a picture of Vietnam War protestors outside the White House, document #4, a collection of “Hate Mail” received by the Tinker Family, document #5 and document #6, parts of the Oral Arguments for the case, document #7, the Majority Opinion, and document #8, the Concurring Opinion.

Today’s document is the Dissenting Opinion (Hugo Black), Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969 – Document 9:

…I have never believed that any person has a right to give speeches or engage in demonstrations where he pleases and when he pleases.

The truth is that a teacher of kindergarten, grammar school, or high school pupils no more carries into a school with him a complete right to freedom of speech and expression than an anti-Catholic or anti-Semite carries with him a complete freedom of speech and religion into a Catholic church or Jewish synagogue…[There is no] complete constitutional right to go into those places contrary to their rules and speak his mind on any subject he pleases….

Uncontrolled and uncontrollable liberty is an enemy to domestic peace. …School discipline, like parental discipline, is an integral and important part of training our children to be good citizens. …The Federal Constitution [does not] compel…teachers, parents, and elected school officials to surrender control of the American public school system to public school students. I dissent.

Think about it:

Summarize Black’s objections to the majority ruling.

How does this impact your answer to the DBQ question: “Evaluate the extent to which the First Amendment should protect symbolic speech, and the degree to which that protection should be guaranteed to students in public school”?

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Check back each week to see the next document and how it might change your thinking on this important question that affects all public school teachers and students in the U.S.!

If you are enjoying this DBQ – be sure to check out our curriculum Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases the Changed History.

Posted in A More Perfect Blog


2 Responses to “Tinker v. Des Moines DBQ – Document 9”

  1. [...] Arguments for the case, document #7, the Majority Opinion, document #8, the Concurring Opinion, and document #9, the Dissenting Opinion (Hugo Black), document #10, the Dissenting Opinion (John Marshall Harlan), [...]

  2. [...] Arguments for the case, document #7, the Majority Opinion, document #8, the Concurring Opinion, and document #9, the Dissenting Opinion (Hugo Black), document #10, the Dissenting Opinion (John Marshall Harlan), [...]

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