McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334, 6 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 334 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas reversed. Finding that Mrs. McIntyre did not "mislead the public nor act in a surreptitious manner," the court concluded that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to her conduct. App. to Pet. for Cert. A-34 to A-35. The Ohio Court of Appeals, by a divided vote, reinstated the fine. Notwithstanding doubts about the continuing validity of a 1922 decision of the Ohio Supreme Court upholding the statutory predecessor of 3599.09(A), the majority considered itself bound by that precedent. Id., at A-20 to A-21, citing State v. Babst, 104 Ohio St. 167, 135 N. E. 525 (1922). The dissenting judge thought that our intervening decision in Talley v. California, 362 U. S. 60 (1960), in which we invalidated a city ordinance prohibiting all anonymous leafletting, compelled the Ohio court to adopt a narrowing construction of the statute to save its constitutionality. App. to Pet. for Cert. A-30 to A-31.

The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed by a divided vote. The majority distinguished Mrs. McIntyre's case from Talley on the ground that 3599.09(A) "has as its purpose the identification of persons who distribute materials containing false statements." 67 Ohio St. 3d 391, 394, 618 N. E. 2d 152, 154

or nature of which makes it unreasonable to add an identification or disclaimer. The disclaimer or identification, when paid for by a campaign committee, shall be identified by the words 'paid for by' followed by the name and address of the campaign committee and the appropriate officer of the committee, identified by name and title."

Section 3599.09(B) contains a comparable prohibition against unidentified communications uttered over the broadcasting facilities of any radio or television station. No question concerning that provision is raised in this case. Our opinion, therefore, discusses only written communications and, particularly, leaflets of the kind Mrs. McIntyre distributed. Cf. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, 512 U. S. 622, 637-638 (1994) (discussing application of First Amendment principles to regulation of television and radio).

The complaint against Mrs. McIntyre also alleged violations of two other provisions of the Ohio Code, but those charges were dismissed and are not before this Court.

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