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McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission

Significance

The ruling extended First Amendment protections to those who publish anonymously in a political context.

On 27 April 1988, outside a public meeting in Westerville, Ohio, a school official warned Margaret McIntyre that the pamphlets she was distributing were illegal. Her fliers opposed a proposed school levy; some were signed with her name, but others were only signed "Concerned Parents and Tax Payers." Despite the warning, McIntyre continued handing out her fliers the following evening.

In November, after the levy had passed, the same official filed a complaint against McIntyre with the Ohio Elections Commission. The commission fined McIntyre $100, as 3599.09(A) of the Ohio Code prohibited anonymous campaign literature. The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas reversed that decision, on the grounds that McIntyre had not misled the public or acted surreptitiously. The Ohio Court of Appeals reinstated the fine, based on the 1922 Ohio Supreme Court decision State v. Babst upholding the predecessor to the law in question. The dissent cited Talley v. California (1960) as a relevant, more recent case.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission - Significance, Talley V. California, Regulation Of The Electoral Process, "exacting Scrutiny", . . . Or Perhaps Not