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, document #8, the Concurring Opinion, and document #9, the Dissenting Opinion (Hugo Black), document #10, the Dissenting Opinion (John Marshall Harlan), document #11, a picture of Lorena, Paul, and Mary Beth Tinker, and document #12, a Dissenting Opinion, Street v. New York.

Today’s document is a picture: “A Symbolic Protest Mounted by Vietnam Veterans Against the War,” 1976


Think about it:

Compare this example of a symbolic protest of the Vietnam War with the Tinkers’ actions.

Should the First Amendment protect this kind of symbolic speech?

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


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