Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, McIntyre (Petitioner), distributed leaflets in opposition to a school tax levy. The leaflets did not specifically indicate who the author was in violation of Ohio election law. So, the Petitioner was charged with violating the Ohio code.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Political speech is protected. Laws requiring disclosure of the identity of the author of political speech are subject to strict scrutiny.
The evidence offered need show only a reasonable probability that the compelled disclosure of a party's contributors names will subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either Government officials or private parties.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Does the Ohio law prohibiting the distribution of anonymous campaign literature violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?
Held. Yes. No form of speech is entitled to greater protection than that of Petitioner.
Ohio has not provided sufficient evidence that the identification of the author will help prevent fraud. There are less restrictive alternatives available.
Dissent. Anonymous writings are not an honorable tradition of advocacy and dissent.
Concurrence. Agrees with the result, but not the reasoning. The analysis should focus on the original intent of the framers and their own actions. The prime example of anonymous political writing can be found in the original Federalist Papers that supported independence.
Discussion. The value of anonymous speech has been recognized throughout history. Often an author will not sign or provide a pseudonym in order to have the idea heard before it is judged. The identity of an author can sway public opinion and reception to the idea. By not allowing anonymity, the state is suppressing speech that would otherwise occur.