I will be exploring freedom of speech. This freedom, that lies in the 1st Amendment, means that you have the right to say anything without fear of retaliation.
Limits of this freedom is that you can’t say anything that would infer that you want to hurt someone without being penalized or watched. It is not absolute. The history of the freedom of speech is that the Supreme Court has had problems with trying to determine what types of speech is protected. Speech provoking things that would harm others like shouting “fire” in a public place. That would not be protected. It also does not include the right to make or distribute obscene material.
Some Supreme Court cases that have covered or went over the freedom of speech are Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District in 1969, Bethel School District v. Fraser in 1968, and Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier in 1988. In 1791, the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights guarantees the four freedoms which is religion, speech, press and the right to assemble.
The first Supreme Court case that deals with Freedom of Speech is the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District on November 12 of 1968 to February 24 of 1969. Three public school students, John Tinker, Christopher Eckhardt and Mary Beth Tinker, wore black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. They were suspended and armbands were forbidden. The 3 students still continued to wear them and were suspended. Does prohibiting public school students from wearing an armband in a symbolic and peaceful protest violate the 1st Amendment? Although it made students uncomfortable, the school did not have the right to suspend them. The students decided to sue and they won.
It was a 7-2 decision. The school violated the students’ rights because of their way of protesting. It was peaceful and non-disruptive. That is the reasoning for claiming Tinker won. It was not disruptive and did not contain obscene material.
According to Justice Abe Fortas, “In order for a school to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.” The importance of this case is that students can have free expression as long as it is passive and doesn’t harm anyone.