John F. Tinker is a life-long human rights and peace activist. He is known as the first-named petitioner in the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Tinker v. Des Moines. In December of 1965, with his sister Mary Beth Tinker, their friend Christopher Eckhardt, and several others, they were suspended from schools in Des Moines, Iowa, for having worn black armbands to protest against the war in Vietnam. The Tinkers and Eckhardt successfully sued the school system in federal court, for violations of their First Amendment rights to free expression of their opinions, absent any disturbance to the educational environment.
Since the decision in their case, several other Supreme Court cases have subsequently carved out exceptions to the general principle that students and teachers do not shed their Constitutional rights when at school. These exceptions are: Hazelwood v. Kulemeir, which give schools the right to censor the student newspaper; Bethel v. Fraser, which gives school administrations the right to censor sexual innuendo; and Morse v. Frederick, which gives schools the right to censor the advocacy of illegal drug use. However, the protection of political speech which is not a "material and substantial" disruption to the educational environment, still stands.
John Tinker is also the chief engineer and station manager of low-power FM community radio station KPIP, in Fayette, Missouri, and the creator and developer of this website, Schema-Root.org.