Tinkers to discuss landmark case during First Amendment Days

AMES, Iowa - The third annual First Amendment Days event at Iowa State University will be a weeklong celebration, April 10 - 16. Each weekday will highlight one of the five freedoms of the First Amendment. All events are free and open to the public; students in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication organized most of the activities.

The event kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at the Ames Public Library, 515 Douglas Ave., with a panel of area residents sharing stories on expressing the First Amendment in the community.

"Freedom of Speech" day is, Monday, April 11. It features a "Feast on the First Amendment" from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Iowa State's central campus. The feast includes free food and soapbox debates.

At 7 p.m. April 11 in the Sun Room, Memorial Union, First Amendment experts Michael Kent Curtis, law professor at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.; and Judith Krug, executive director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, Chicago, Ill., will discuss how that document is the foundation of freedom in the United States.

"Freedom of Petition" day is Tuesday, April 12. At 7 p.m. in the Sun Room, Memorial Union, three groups of Iowans will discuss their petitions to government for the redress of grievances in "Petition -- The Forgotten Freedom?"

The three groups include the two men who successfully sued the ISU Foundation on open records issues, the attorney who represented seven Cass County residents who challenged their sheriff and county attorney following financial and legal irregularities and a group of ISU students who successfully petitioned the Ames City Council for a special election on term limits.

"Freedom of Press" day, Wednesday, April 13, features the week's keynote speakers, Mary Beth and John Tinker. The brother and sister brought a case against the Des Moines Independent Community School District in the late 1960s that resulted in one of the most significant cases about free expression on campus in U.S. Supreme Court history. The Tinkers, who wore black armbands to school in sympathy of deceased soldiers in the Vietnam War, will discuss "Freedom of Expression in an Age of Fear" at 7 p.m. in the Sun Room, Memorial Union.

"Freedom of Assembly" day is Thursday, April 14. From noon to 1 p.m., an attempt to break the "Guinness Book of World Records" for most people reading simultaneously is planned. The First Amendment Week Committee will attempt to assemble on central campus a minimum of 1,111 people to simultaneously read John F. Kennedy's inaugural address.

Also on April 14, Dan Barker, public relations director of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Madison, Wis., will present "Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist" at 7 p.m. in the Sun Room, Memorial Union,

"Freedom of Religion" day is Friday, April 15. A second "Feast on the First Amendment" will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on central campus. In addition to free food, debates on religious issues will be held.

First Amendment Week activities will conclude Saturday, April 16, with an awards ceremony at 2 p.m. in the Scheman Building, Iowa State Center. The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication will honor student achievement.

"First Amendment Week reminds us about two important concepts -- education and community," said Michael Bugeja, the Greenlee School's director. "Without education, free speech is meaningless. Without free speech, education is ineffective. The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication symbolizes education and commitment to free speech, free press, assembly, petition and religious liberty - free from Congressional law."

First Amendment Days is sponsored by Iowa State, the Greenlee School, Lee Enterprises, the Iowa State Daily and the ISU Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.