We the People Band of Rights September 17

Mary Beth Tinker

Mary Beth Tinker was one of the plaintiffs in a landmark students' rights case called Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which involved the freedom of speech. When Mary Beth, her brother John, and their friend Chris Eckhardt wore black armbands to school to signify their support for ending the Vietnam War, they were suspended from their public school in Des Moines, Iowa. They sued the school district, and their case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which held in 1969 that students (and teachers) have First Amendment rights in school that cannot be censored unless the speech causes a "material and substantial disruption" to school functioning.

Mary Beth is a mother, registered nurse, and union organizer. She supports efforts to increase knowledge of the Constitution and is an enthusiastic advocate of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project based at American University Washington College of Law.