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McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission


McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission
Docket: 93-986
Citation: 514 U.S. 334 (1995)

Facts of the Case
On April 27, 1988, Margaret McIntyre distributed leaflets to persons attending a public meeting in Ohio expressing her opposition to a proposed school tax levy. Though they were independently produced, she signed them as the views of "Concerned Parents and Tax Payers." Mrs. McIntyre was subsequently fined $100 for violating Section 3599.09(A) of the Ohio Elections Commission Code prohibiting the distribution of campaign literature that does not contain the name and address of the person or campaign official issuing the literature.

Does the prohibition of the distribution of anonymous campaign literature abridge freedom of speech as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Yes. The freedom to publish anonymously is protected by the First Amendment and "extends beyond the literary realm to the advocacy of political causes." When a law burdens such anonymous speech, the Court applies "exacting scrutiny," upholding the restriction only if it is narrowly tailored to serve an overriding state interest.

Oral Argument
There are exceptions to the anonymous free speech, but you must read the Oral Arguments to know what they are, in essence, anything that is not true, libel, slander, fraud, etc and a few others. Folks must be responsible for what they say, print, and do with respect to exercising their First Amendment rights. So, read and understand the concepts of what the Justices are saying.

Assuming no wrongful conduct, the court said:
"“Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.”" The Electronic Frontier Foundation citing the above case.

See also: A Victory for Anonymous Online Free Speech

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