McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334, 11 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court

we did "not pass on the validity of an ordinance limited to prevent these or any other supposed evils." Ibid. The Ohio statute likewise contains no language limiting its application to fraudulent, false, or libelous statements; to the extent, therefore, that Ohio seeks to justify 3599.09(A) as a means to prevent the dissemination of untruths, its defense must fail for the same reason given in Talley. As the facts of this case demonstrate, the ordinance plainly applies even when there is no hint of falsity or libel.

Ohio's statute does, however, contain a different limitation: It applies only to unsigned documents designed to influence voters in an election. In contrast, the Los Angeles ordinance prohibited all anonymous handbilling "in any place under any circumstances." Id., at 60-61. For that reason, Ohio correctly argues that Talley does not necessarily control the disposition of this case. We must, therefore, decide whether and to what extent the First Amendment's protection of anonymity encompasses documents intended to influence the electoral process.

Ohio places its principal reliance on cases such as Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U. S. 780 (1983); Storer v. Brown, 415 U. S. 724 (1974); and Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U. S. 428 (1992), in which we reviewed election code provisions governing the voting process itself. See Anderson, supra (filing deadlines); Storer, supra (ballot access); Burdick, supra (write-in voting); see also Tashjian v. Republican Party of Conn., 479 U. S. 208 (1986) (eligibility of independent voters to vote in party primaries). In those cases we refused to adopt "any

material of that character. But the ordinance is not so limited, and I think it will not do for the State simply to say that the circulation of all anonymous handbills must be suppressed in order to identify the distributors of those that may be of an obnoxious character. In the absence of a more substantial showing as to Los Angeles' actual experience with the distribution of obnoxious handbills, such a generality is for me too remote to furnish a constitutionally acceptable justification for the deterrent effect on free speech which this all-embracing ordinance is likely to have." 362 U. S., at 66-67 (footnote omitted).

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