Skip to Main Content

Tinker v. Des Moines Viewing Guide

Access our Homework Help video on the Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court case and use the following lesson to help your students understand the material!


Why did a subtle act of protest against a foreign war reach the Supreme Court? In 1965, students John and Mary Beth Tinker wore black armbands to school to protest the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, despite the Des Moines school district prohibiting such an act. The Tinkers sued the district for violating their First Amendment rights, and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor in a 7-2 decision. While subsequent Supreme Court rulings narrowed the scope of free expression rights at school, Tinker v. Des Moines remains a landmark case that has defined First Amendment rights for students.

Viewing Guide:

  1. Why did the Tinker family take the school district to court?
  2. Who took on the case for Tinker and what did he argue?
  3. Why did the school district argue it could prevent students from wearing black armbands?
  4. What did the Supreme Court rule in 1969 in the Tinker case?
  5. Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling? Why?
  6. Do you think the Court settled the issue of free speech and expression at school?

Access the answer key

Related Content