This article examines the erosion of the strength of the Supreme Court’s 1969 opinion in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. Indicators of decline range from Justice Thomas’ stunning call in Morse v. Frederick for overruling Tinker to recent lower-court opinions using Tinker to censor off-campus expression posted on the Internet. The article explores possible reasons for the decline and abuse of Tinker and it makes suggestions for its reinvigoration. Part I highlights and analyzes other indicators of the erosion, decline, and abuse of Tinker. Part II then explores some possible reasons and explanations for the midlife crisis it faces. Finally, Part III concludes that Tinker is still viable today, especially in cases that approximately mirror its facts, and that it has been used in some relatively recent cases to safeguard student expression. In other words, Tinker can weather this midlife crisis if judges and school administrators take it seriously.

Recommended Citation

Calvert, Clay. “Tinker's Midlife Crisis: Tattered and Transgressed but Still Standing Tinker Turns 40: Freedom of Expression at School and Its Meaning for American Democracy - April 16, 2009 – Symposium.” American University Law Review 58, no. 5 (June 2009): 1167-1191.