Key Figures of Tinker v. Des Moines
Justice Abe Fortas
Abraham Fortas served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1965 to 1969 and is remembered for his promotion of civil liberties and concern with social policy over legal precedent.
Justice Abe Fortas delivered the 7-2 majority opinion in the Tinker v. Des Moines case, asserting that prohibiting the wearing of armbands as a form of symbolic protest does violate the students’ freedom of speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Learn more about Justice Fortas here.
Mary Beth Tinker
Mary Beth (age 13), her siblings, and some of their classmates in Des Moines, Iowa decided to wear black arm bands to school to mourn the deaths on both sides of the Vietnam War.
The school district tried to block the students from their symbolic protest, and Tinker and her parents brought the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
Tinker is now a retired pediatric nurse and a strong advocate for the rights of young people, particularly in regard to health and education.
Learn more about Mary Beth Tinker here.
Justice Hugo Black
Hugo Black served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971.
In his dissenting opinion in Tinker v. Des Moines, he argued that the school district was well within its right to discipline the students because the armbands distracted students from their work and detracted from the school official’s ability to perform their duties
Learn more about Justice Black here.