In April of 1988, Westerville citizen Margaret McIntyre distributed leaflets at a public meeting hosted by Beldon Middle School, expressing her objections to a proposed school tax levy. However, she failed to write her name and address on the leaflets she distributed, which violated section 3599.09(A) of the Ohio Code. The Ohio Elections Commission fined McIntyre $100. Represented by the ACLU attorney David Goldberger, she obtained a reversal of the fine in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The court found that McIntyre had not misled the public, since there was no evidence that any information on the leaflets was false. The Ohio Elections Commission appealed; the Ohio Court of Appeals reinstated the fine, which was affirmed by the Ohio Supreme Court. The ACLU appealed the decision, and the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In a victory for free speech, the high court affirmed the ACLU’s argument that banning anonymous speech can serve to chill the expression of controversial viewpoints.

Read the brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the decision on FindLaw.

Date filed

April 16, 1990