Document Type


Publication Date



Sitting around the Eckhardt family living room on a cold, gray December Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa, Christopher Eckhardt and John and Mary Beth Tinker made the fateful decision to wear black armbands to school the next week to protest the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam conflagration and to mourn the dead on both sides. Their silent witness began a new chapter in rights of conscience. "It can hardly be argued," Justice Abe Fortas wrote, "that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate". Thirty years later, we gathered together a prominent array of constitutionalists, civil libertarians, policy analysts, lawyers, judges, school administrators, professors, students, and some of the principal actors in the case to reconsider the events leading up to the Supreme Court's decision and what that landmark ruling has meant for the First Amendment rights of all Americans.