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Do We Have a Constitutional Right to Anonymous Speech and to Publish Anonymous Pamphlets?
Yes. Anonymous speech is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Federalist Papers were first published anonymously by Founding Fathers James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton.
The Supreme Court has defended anonymous speech time and time again. The key U.S. Supreme Court case is McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission. http://www.eff.org/Legal/Cases/mcintyre_v_ohio.decision
Federal decisions regarding anonymous speech:
1. Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation (1999) 525 U.S. 182, 197-200;
2. McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission (1995) 514 U.S. 334. In that case, on page 357, the Supreme Court said:
“An author is generally free to decide whether or not to disclose his or her true identity. The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one’s privacy as possible. Whatever the motivation may be, the interest in having anonymous works enter the marketplace of ideas unquestionably outweighs any public interest in requiring disclosure as a condition of entry. Accordingly, an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content Amendment.
Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and dissent.
3. Talley v. California (1960) 362 U.S. 60. (holding unconstitutional a state ordinance prohibiting the distribution of anonymous handbills)
4. Lamont v. Postmaster General (1965) 381 U.S. 301, 307 (finding unconstitutional a requirement that recipients of Communist literature notify the post office that they wish to receive it, thereby losing their anonymity);
5. ACLU of Georgia v. Miller (N.D. Ga. 1997) 977 F. Supp. 1228 (striking down a Georgia statute that would have made it a crime for Internet users to falsely identify themselves online).
The above information was gathered at the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse: http://www.chillingeffects.org/index.cgi
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