Help the ‘Tinker Tour’ Educate Students About Free Speech

By on May 17, 2013

It’s not every day that a free speech icon goes on a bus tour, but Mary Beth Tinker of the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) is planning on doing just that. Mary Beth was just 13 years old when she—along with her brother John Tinker and his classmate Christopher Eckhardt—began defending in court their right to wear black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. With its decision in this case, the Supreme Court established that the First Amendment protects student speech even in the secondary school context as long as the speech does not "materially and substantially interfere" with school activities—this is known now as the "Tinker standard." As the Court wrote:

It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. 

Since then, Mary Beth has continued to advocate for civil rights, and with your help, she and free speech attorney Mike Hiestand will visit schools across the country to share her story and empower students to protect their Constitutional rights, too. The fundraising campaign, a Student Press Law Center special project, offers a range of perks in exchange for donations, including a VIP Tinker Tour visit to a school near you, a meal with Mary Beth and Mike, and a signed limited edition Tinker Tour armband.

Donate to the Tinker Tour at StartSomeGood, and read more about the tour (or invite Mary Beth and Mike to your town) on the Tinker Tour website.