We actually started class 30-minutes earlier that usual. We met in Seerley room 116 to hear a speech-of-a-lifetime. I had the amazing opportunity to here Mary Beth Tinker speak about rights, the first amendment, and her experience back in 1965.
Tinker vs. Des Moines, which is one of the most iconic court cases in not only Iowa’s but the nation’s history, involved the speaker I saw today, Mary Beth Tinker.
Mary Beth Tinker was a 13-year-old junior high school student in December 1965 when she and a group of students decided to wear black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam. The school asked them to remove the bands, claiming it was against the rules. The bands ultimately lead to the students receiving a suspension, which ultimately lead to a 4-year court battle against the Des Moines School District.
After her speech, we went back to our designated classroom to continue our class. We began by speaking about the challenges we all faced when writing our article on the a Supreme Court’s decision.
I had issues with keeping it under 1,500 words, while the rest of the class seemed to have issues reaching 1,500 words. This worried me and lead me to believe I had done it incorrectly, or, at the very least, have room for improvement.
Anelia then gave us each 30-minutes to find articles written on the decision and compare these articles to ours.
Here are some articles I found:
After reading these, I notice that these are a lot more concise. However, I expected that since these are under 1,500 words.
After this, we listened to the oral argument of Tinker vs. Des Moines from November 12, 1968.
First and foremost, it sounded very old and that’s because it was. Compared to clear sound I am exposed to today, this definitely had a classic, late 60’s feel to it.
In the beginning, I noticed the judge interrupted the lawyer, which I thought was never acceptable, but maybe it was back then.
The lawyer stresses the first amendment, then restates the entire ordeal to the court. The issue, as mentioned earlier, is Mary Beth and the other students wearing the black arm bands in protest of the Vietnam war and being suspended from school because of it.
The student were asked to remove the arm bands, if not, parents would be notified in attempt to solicit the students to remove the arm bands. If that didn’t work, the students would be sent home and suspended until further notice.
In one instance, a student was asked to remove the arm band but claimed he had a right to wear it. This student’s mother was called and the mother also supported the students decision to wear it. This ultimately lead the student to be suspended for 6 days.
Mary Beth, in a similar situation, wore the arm band to school. However, once she was asked to remove the band, she did. Nevertheless, even after removing the band, she was suspended as well.
After listening to this, the judge appears to be against the idea of wearing arm bands. He kept questioning the motivation behind the arm bands and speculating other, irrelevant situations by saying “what if”.
Amazingly, regardless of how upset the lawyer got, he continued to refer to the judge as “your honor”. This is impressive as he was able to maintain his composure in such an iconic and heated moment.
I won’t sugar coat it. The oral argument was hard to listen to. It’s not that I lacked interest, but it was literally just hard to listen to for 30 straight minutes because of how old it was. This is something I will need to fix if I ever decide to go to law school.
I do think it’s so hard to listen to because of the white noise, or just static, that is in the audio. I am so used to hearing clear-cut, static-less, podcast and music that hearing something less quality becomes an annoyance.
However, I did enjoy listening to the passion behind the lawyers voice. “They were making a statement”, “It wasn’t a distraction your honor”, “I do not have to sustain a decision in this case”, etc. He was firm, passionate, and his voice was heard loudly by me in the classroom so I can’t even imagine how moving and convincing he was in-person back in 1968.