McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission

RESPONDENT:Ohio Elections Commission
LOCATION:Ohio Elections Commission

DOCKET NO.: 93-986
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: Ohio Supreme Court

CITATION: 514 US 334 (1995)
ARGUED: Oct 12, 1994
DECIDED: Apr 19, 1995

Andrew Ian Sutter – Argued the cause for the respondent
Andrew I. Sutter – for respondent
David A. Goldberger – Argued the cause for the petitioner

Facts of the case

On April 27, 1988, Margaret McIntyre distributed leaflets to persons attending a public meeting in Ohio expressing her opposition to a proposed school tax levy. Though they were independently produced, she signed them as the views of “Concerned Parents and Tax Payers.” Mrs. McIntyre was subsequently fined $100 for violating Section 3599.09(A) of the Ohio Elections Commission Code prohibiting the distribution of campaign literature that does not contain the name and address of the person or campaign official issuing the literature.


Does the prohibition of the distribution of anonymous campaign literature abridge freedom of speech as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Media for McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – October 12, 1994 in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 19, 1995 in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the court in number 93-986, McIntyre versus Ohio Elections Commission will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

Margaret McIntyre was fined $100 for distributing anonymous handbills outside the public meeting at the Blendon Middle School in Westerville Ohio, whether superintendent of schools was discussing an imminent referendum on a proposed school tax levy.

This is McIntyre leaflets were addressed to concern citizens and taxpayers, they criticize the tax proposal.

A school board official filed a complaint against Mrs. McIntyre, respondent the Ohio Election Commission for violating in Ohio statute that makes it a crime for anyone to distribute any writing designed to influence the voters in any election unless that person places her name and address on the writing.

The Ohio Supreme Court of upheld the fine.

We granted certiorari to consider whether the Ohio statute is consistent with the first amendment.

For the reason stated in an opinion filed with the clerk today, we reverse.

The court has previously recognized that anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind.

One of the best known examples is the federalist, a collection of papers that played an important role in the ratification of our constitution.

The Federalist Papers is resigned under the name Publius that were actually written by three of our greatest founding fathers, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.

Many great literary figures have also published under assumed names.

Indeed, dumb skeptics believe William Shakespeare was not the true author of the place published under his name.

In this case we hold that the First Amendment recognizes an interest anonymity, whether it is used as a shield from prosecution as protection of privacy or merely as an element of the speakers message that like any other element, they speaker may include or exclude as she sees fit.

Ohio’s law because it placed as burden and core political speech and is not a mere regulation of the electro process, it subject to the most exacting First Amendment scrutiny.

The state takes the justified statute as a method of profaned fraud.

We are persuaded however that this interest is insufficient because the statute is not narrowly tailored to serve that interest.

Ohio also argues that it statute informs the electorate that like any other part of the speakers message, it is up to the peaker to decide whether to provide this information to the public.

She can not be force to inform simply for information sake.

Finally, we explained why our opinions in First National Bank v. Bellotti and Buckley v. Valeo, do not command the different result in this case.

Bellotti’s concerned only the scope of First Amendment protection afforded to corporations, while Buckley concerned disclosure of campaign expenditures in support of a candidate.

Neither case decided whether government may force the speaker to identify herself as the proponent of a specific idea.

We therefore holding that Mrs. McIntyre ahead a First Amendment right to distribute her anonymous handbills and we reverse the decision of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsberg has filed a concurring opinion.

Justice Thomas has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

Justice Scalia has filed a dissenting opinion in which the Chief Justice has joined.