You Don’t Lose Your Rights at the Schoolhouse Gate: Landmark Cases on Speech & Expression

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What are reasonable limits on free speech, and what happens when free speech is stifled? How is free speech different in schools from in the public square, and how should schools deal with the complexities of speech and expression?

In 1965, siblings John and Mary Beth Tinker wore armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. After being suspended and suing their school district, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in their favor, saying the armbands didn’t create substantial disruption. The case, Tinker v. Des Moines, created the “Tinker Standard” which gave school districts the right to regulate expression if it was “materially disruptive.”

The Tinkers, along with Cathy Kuhlmeier, also a U.S. Supreme Court litigant, and David L. Hudson, Jr., a First Amendment expert and law professor, will tell their stories at a public event on Thursday, November 2 at 6:00 pm at the Concord City Auditorium, followed by a moderated discussion led by UNH Law Professor John Graebe. The program, supported in part by a New Hampshire Humanities Community Project Grant, is presented by NH Council for the Social Studies, NH Institute for Civics Education, Constitutionally Speaking, NH Historical Society, and NH Bar Foundation Fellows. The event is free and open to all, but tickets are required. Reserve your seats at

Related event: On Friday, Nov. 3 from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm in Nashua, social studies teachers from across the Granite State are invited to participate in the NH Council for the Social Studies Conference. The day-long event features keynote speeches and breakout sessions led by John and Mary Beth Tinker, Cathy Kuhlmeier, David Hudson, and other First Amendment experts. Teachers can register at