Supreme Court Plaintiff Tinker To Speak on Student First Amendment Rights

Conference To Examine Speech in the Current Era
Speech Inside the Schoolhouse Gates: 50 Years After Tinker v. Des Moines
January 14, 2020

Mary Beth Tinker, the plaintiff in the seminal U.S. Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines, will deliver the keynote address at a conference at the University of Virginia School of Law examining the status of student free speech rights 50 years later.

“Speech Inside the Schoolhouse Gates: 50 Years After Tinker v. Des Moines” will be held Jan. 24 in Caplin Pavilion starting at 9 a.m. The event is presented by the Virginia Law Review Online, with support from UVA Law’s Karsh Center for Law and Democracy.

The conference will explore the balance between protecting speech and protecting the learning environment, and whether policing both “popular” and “unpopular” student speech reflects current First Amendment values.

Tinker was suspended from school after wearing a black armband in protest of the Vietnam War. But the Supreme Court ultimately declared that “students and teachers do not shed their rights at the schoolhouse gate.”

Today, Tinker speaks at venues across the United States to teach students about their rights. 

The conference is free and open to the public. Parking is available at the Law School in the D2 and D3 lots. RSVP for lunch here.

The event is co-sponsored with UVA Law student organizations and student chapters of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy; the Black Law Students Association; Child Advocacy Research and Education; the Federalist Society; the Latin American Law Organization; Law, Innovation, Security & Technology; the Middle Eastern and North African Law Student Association; the Minority Rights Coalition; and the Rex E. Lee Law Society.


Caplin Pavilion

9-9:30 a.m.

Registration and Breakfast

9:30-10 a.m.

Opening Remarks

Frederick Schauer, David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law

10-11 a.m.

Panel 1 | Is Tinker Still Good Law?: A Conversation on the Status of Student Rights 50 Years Later

  • Manal Cheema ’20, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Mary-Rose Papandrea, Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of North Carolina School of Law
  • Emily Gold Waldman, Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Faculty Development & Operations, Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law
  • Timothy Zick, John Marshall Professor of Government and Citizenship and Cabell Research Professor, William & Mary Law School
  • Moderator: Kimberly J. Robinson, Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law; Professor of Education, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Panel 2 | From Black Armbands to Confederate Flags: How to Handle Unpopular Student Speech Today

  • Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law & Dean’s Distinguished Scholar, University of Miami School of Law
  • Susan Kruth ’11, FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)
  • Anna Cecile Pepper ’21, University of Virginia School of Law
  • LaTarndra Strong, Hate-Free Schools Coalition, Orange County, North Carolina
  • Moderator: Richard C. Schragger, Perre Bowen Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law; Senior Fellow, Miller Center, University of Virginia

12:30-2 p.m.

Lunch and Keynote Address | Mary Beth Tinker

Introduction: Micah Schwartzman ’05, Hardy Cross Dillard Professor of Law; Martha Lubin Karsh and Bruce A. Karsh Bicentennial Professor of Law; Director, Karsh Center for Law and Democracy, University of Virginia School of Law

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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