McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334 (1995)

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certiorari to the supreme court of ohio

No. 93-986. Argued October 12, 1994—Decided April 19, 1995

After petitioner's decedent distributed leaflets purporting to express the views of "CONCERNED PARENTS AND TAX PAYERS" opposing a proposed school tax levy, she was fined by respondent for violating 3599.09(A) of the Ohio Code, which prohibits the distribution of campaign literature that does not contain the name and address of the person or campaign official issuing the literature. The Court of Common Pleas reversed, but the Ohio Court of Appeals reinstated the fine. In affirming, the State Supreme Court held that the burdens 3599.09(A) imposed on voters' First Amendment rights were "reasonable" and "nondiscriminatory" and therefore valid. Declaring that 3599.09(A) is intended to identify persons who distribute campaign materials containing fraud, libel, or false advertising and to provide voters with a mechanism for evaluating such materials, the court distinguished Talley v. California, 362 U. S. 60, in which this Court invalidated an ordinance prohibiting all anonymous leafletting.

Held: Section 3599.09(A)'s prohibition of the distribution of anonymous campaign literature abridges the freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment. Pp. 341-357. (a) The freedom to publish anonymously is protected by the First Amendment, and, as Talley indicates, extends beyond the literary realm to the advocacy of political causes. Pp. 341-343. (b) This Court's precedents make abundantly clear that the Ohio Supreme Court's reasonableness standard is significantly more lenient than is appropriate in a case of this kind. Although Talley concerned a different limitation than 3599.09(A) and thus does not necessarily control here, the First Amendment's protection of anonymity nevertheless applies. Section 3599.09(A) is not simply an election code provision subject to the "ordinary litigation" test set forth in Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U. S. 780, and similar cases. Rather, it is a regulation of core political speech. Moreover, the category of documents it covers is defined by their content—only those publications containing speech designed to influence the voters in an election need bear the required information. See, e. g., First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U. S. 765, 776-777. When a law burdens such speech, the Court applies "exacting scrutiny,"

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