McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334, 8 (1995)

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

Opinion of the Court

1108 (1994), reflects our agreement with his appraisal of the importance of the question presented.


Ohio maintains that the statute under review is a reasonable regulation of the electoral process. The State does not suggest that all anonymous publications are pernicious or that a statute totally excluding them from the marketplace of ideas would be valid. This is a wise (albeit implicit) concession, for the anonymity of an author is not ordinarily a sufficient reason to exclude her work product from the protections of the First Amendment.

"Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind." Talley v. California, 362 U. S., at 64. Great works of literature have frequently been produced by authors writing under assumed names.4 Despite readers' curiosity and the public's interest in identifying the creator of a work of art, an author generally is free to decide whether or not to disclose his or her true identity. The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official re-4 American names such as Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) and O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) come readily to mind. Benjamin Franklin employed numerous different pseudonyms. See 2 W. Bruce, Benjamin Franklin Self-Revealed: A Biographical and Critical Study Based Mainly on His Own Writings, ch. 5 (2d ed. 1923). Distinguished French authors such as Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) and George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin), and British authors such as George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Charles Lamb (sometimes wrote as "Elia"), and Charles Dickens (sometimes wrote as "Boz"), also published under assumed names. Indeed, some believe the works of Shakespeare were actually written by the Earl of Oxford rather than by William Shaksper of Stratford-on-Avon. See C. Ogburn, The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth & the Reality (2d ed. 1992); but see S. Schoenbaum, Shakespeare's Lives (2d ed. 1991) (adhering to the traditional view that Shaksper was in fact the author). See also Stevens, The Shakespeare Canon of Statutory Construction, 140 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1373 (1992) (commenting on the competing theories).


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