McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334, 10 (1995)

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

Opinion of the Court

political rhetoric, where "the identity of the speaker is an important component of many attempts to persuade," City of Ladue v. Gilleo, 512 U. S. 43, 56 (1994) (footnote omitted), the most effective advocates have sometimes opted for anonymity. The specific holding in Talley related to advocacy of an economic boycott, but the Court's reasoning embraced a respected tradition of anonymity in the advocacy of political causes.6 This tradition is perhaps best exemplified by the secret ballot, the hard-won right to vote one's conscience without fear of retaliation.


California had defended the Los Angeles ordinance at issue in Talley as a law "aimed at providing a way to identify those responsible for fraud, false advertising and libel." 362 U. S., at 64. We rejected that argument because nothing in the text or legislative history of the ordinance limited its application to those evils.7 Ibid. We then made clear that

6 That tradition is most famously embodied in the Federalist Papers, authored by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, but signed "Publius." Publius' opponents, the Anti-Federalists, also tended to publish under pseudonyms: prominent among them were "Cato," believed to be New York Governor George Clinton; "Centinel," probably Samuel Bryan or his father, Pennsylvania judge and legislator George Bryan; "The Federal Farmer," who may have been Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence; and "Brutus," who may have been Robert Yates, a New York Supreme Court justice who walked out on the Constitutional Convention. 2 H. Storing, ed., The Complete Anti-Federalist (1981). A forerunner of all of these writers was the pre-Revolutionary War English pamphleteer "Junius," whose true identity remains a mystery. See Encyclopedia of Colonial and Revolutionary America 220 (J. Faragher ed. 1990) (positing that "Junius" may have been Sir Phillip Francis). The "Letters of Junius" were "widely reprinted in colonial newspapers and lent considerable support to the revolutionary cause." Powell v. McCormack, 395 U. S. 486, 531, n. 60 (1969).

7 In his concurring opinion, Justice Harlan added these words: "Here the State says that this ordinance is aimed at the prevention of 'fraud, deceit, false advertising, negligent use of words, obscenity, and libel,' in that it will aid in the detection of those responsible for spreading


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