"Tinker Turns 40" WCL Event to Examine Impact of Landmark First Amendment Case

Conference will include comments from Mary Beth Tinker reflecting on the 40th anniversary


WASHINGTON, DC, April 14, 2009 – American University Washington College of Law will host “Tinker Turns 40: Freedom of Expression at School and Its Meaning for American Democracy,” Thursday, April 16 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District was a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision that set a historic precedent for the constitutional rights of students in public schools.  The case is still used today as a reference point for school disciplinary actions to ensure that they do not violate the constitutional rights of students. 

At this program, constitutional law experts will explore the legacy of Tinker for First Amendment rights, not only in schools but in American society, including its role in the internet age and current controversies over religious speech, teacher speech, and viewpoint discrimination.  Mary Beth Tinker is one of the defendants in Tinker who was suspended from school for wearing an armband in protest of the Vietnam War, and she will take a look at the ramifications of the case 40 years later.

The event is presented by the Program on Law and Government, the American University Law Review, and the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project.

To register for this event, go to http://www.wcl.american.edu/secle/registration.cfm. For more information on this event or other news at American University Washington College of Law, please contact Jason Policastro at (202) 895-4537 or via email at policastro@wcl.american.edu

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Full Schedule:

9:30 am Welcome Remarks

9:45 am From Civil Rights to Civility Rights: The Journey of Tinker from the 1960s to the Internet Age.

Kristi Bowman, Associate Professor of Law, Michigan State University College of Law;

Clay Calvert, John and Ann Curley Professor of First Amendment Studies, Co‐Director, The Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment, The Pennsylvania State University.

Moderator/Commentator: Dr. Saby Ghoshray, President, Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies

10:45 am Break

11:00 am. Exploring the Reach of Tinker

Jamin Raskin, Professor of Law, Director of the Law and Government Program, American University Washington College of Law;

Francisco Negrón, General Counsel, National School Boards Association.

Moderator/Commentator: Roy Karp, Executive Director, The Civic\Education Project, Inc.

12:30 p.m. Lunch: 40th Anniversary Reflections of Tinker by Mary Beth Tinker

1:45 pm Inside the Schoolhouse Gates: the Tinker Doctrine and Current Controversies over Religious

Speech, Teacher Speech and Viewpoint Discrimination.

Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice;

Alex Wohl, Communications Director, American Constitution Society;

Frank LoMonte, Executive Director, Student Press Law Center;

Sam S. Harben, Jr., Partner, Harben & Hartley.

Moderator: Maryam Ahranjani, Adjunct Professor, American University Washington College of Law

3:15 pm Break

3:25 pm Question and Answer Period, with all three moderators presiding