Tinker V. Fraser Summary

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On April 26, 1983, Matthew N. Fraser (Respondent), a student at Bethel High School in Bethel, Washington, delivered a speech nominating a fellow student for student elective office. Approximately 600 High School students were in attendance, many of whom were 14 years old, the assembly was a part of a school sponsored educational program in self government. Students were required to either attend or go to study hall during the assembly. Prior to reciting the speech, Fraser sought guidance from two teachers, who both informed him that the speech may be seen as lewd and improper, as well as met with potentially severe repercussions. During his entire speech:
I know a man who is firm — he’s firm in his pants, he’s firm in his shirt, his character is firm — but most… of all, his belief in you, the students of Bethel, is firm. Jeff Kuhlman is a man who takes his point and pounds it in. If necessary, he’ll take an issue and nail it to the wall. He doesn’t attack things in spurts — he drives har, pushing and pushing until finally — he succeeds. Jeff is a man who will go to the very end — even the climax,
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Des Moines ruling based off of the Court of Appeals reliance on the case in ruling on Bethel v. Fraser. Essentially Tinker v. Des Moines hinges on whether the school acted in accordance to their authority to maintain a proper environment for students, by impeding Tinker’s Right to Freedom of Speech. The Court found that wearing a black armband in peaceful protest is protected under Freedom of Speech, because there was no disruption caused in the action, it was unnecessary for the school to react in the manner that it did. Justice Burger went on to suggest that the Court of Appeals missed the mark in comparing the two cases. Consequently, there is a distinction between the political message of the black armband Tinker wore, and the sexual content of Fraser’s speech when deciding the School’s ability to
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