McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334, 15 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court


Nevertheless, the State argues that, even under the strictest standard of review, the disclosure requirement in 3599.09(A) is justified by two important and legitimate state interests. Ohio judges its interest in preventing fraudulent and libelous statements and its interest in providing the electorate with relevant information to be sufficiently compelling to justify the anonymous speech ban. These two interests necessarily overlap to some extent, but it is useful to discuss them separately.

Insofar as the interest in informing the electorate means nothing more than the provision of additional information that may either buttress or undermine the argument in a document, we think the identity of the speaker is no different from other components of the document's content that the author is free to include or exclude.11 We have already held that the State may not compel a newspaper that prints editorials critical of a particular candidate to provide space for a reply by the candidate. Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U. S. 241 (1974). The simple interest in providing voters with additional relevant information does not justify a state requirement that a writer make statements or disclosures she would otherwise omit. Moreover, in the case of a handbill written by a private citizen who is not known to the recipient, the name and address of the author add little, if anything, to the reader's ability to evaluate the

11 "Of course, the identity of the source is helpful in evaluating ideas. But 'the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market' (Abrams v. United States, [250 U. S. 616, 630 (1919) (Holmes, J., dissenting)]). Don't underestimate the common man. People are intelligent enough to evaluate the source of an anonymous writing. They can see it is anonymous. They know it is anonymous. They can evaluate its anonymity along with its message, as long as they are permitted, as they must be, to read that message. And then, once they have done so, it is for them to decide what is 'responsible', what is valuable, and what is truth." New York v. Duryea, 76 Misc. 2d 948, 966-967, 351 N. Y. S. 2d 978, 996 (1974) (striking down similar New York statute as overbroad).

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