November/December 2013
The Tinker Tour in St. Louis

On Wednesday, November 20, 2013, the U.S. Courts in St. Louis and the Judicial Learning Center welcomed the Tinker Tour to the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse. Mary Beth Tinker (left) and a few other teenagers brought suit against their school in the 1960s because they were suspended for wearing black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War.

Their case began in the Southern District of Iowa, moved through the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually ended in victory in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court upheld the students’ First Amendment right to express themselves non-disruptively in a public school.

The 1969 case, Tinker v. Des Moines (393 U.S. 503 (1969)), is still cited in nearly every student free-speech rights case, and is mentioned in nearly all American civics and history textbooks. Mary Beth Tinker and attorney Mike Hiestand have been touring the country to talk to student groups and give them a real-life civics lesson.

Students from University City High School’s journalism and social studies classes were in attendance at the Eagleton Courthouse for that lesson. This is fitting as Mary Beth and her family moved to St. Louis while the case was still working its way through the courts, and Mary Beth graduated from University City High School in 1970. For more information on the Tinker Tour in general, please see their website at