Case Study 5
Distribution of anonymous political flyers

On April 27, 1988, Margaret McIntyre passed out flyers outside a school where a public meeting was being held to discuss an increase in school taxes. McIntyre’s flyers urged people not to vote for the tax increase. The flyer was signed “Concerned Parents and Taxpayers” but did not give the name or address of the individual(s) issuing the literature.

A school official complained, and McIntyre was charged with violating an Ohio state law against distributing anonymous literature about election issues. The law required that the name and address of a person or organization be printed on all campaign pamphlets, flyers, brochures, etc. The law was to protect candidates and voters from anonymous libelous or false information that might unfairly influence the results of an election. However, it applied to all anonymous literature, even if was not libelous or obviously false.

  • Is this speech protected?
  • If not, what harm might occur as a result of the speech?
  • What value or right is conflicting with free speech in this case?