Opinions & Commentaries

The Post Office Appropriation Act of August 24, 1912, 37 Stat. 539, 553, 554, c. 389, in § 2, contains the following:"SEC. 2. . . . That it shall be the duty of the editor, publisher, business manager, or owner of every newspaper, magazine, periodical, or other publication to file with the Postmaster General and the postmaster at the office at which said publication is entered, not later than the first day of April and the first day of October of each year, on blanks furnished by the Post Office Department, a sworn statement setting forth the names and post-office addresses of the editor and managing editor, publisher, business managers, and owners, and, in addition, the stockholders, if the publication be owned by a corporation; and also the names of known bondholders, mortgagees, or other security holders; and also, in the case of daily newspapers, there shall be included in such statement the average of the number of copies of each issue of such publication sold or distributed to paid subscribers during the preceding six months: Provided, That the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to religious, fraternal, temperance, and scientific, or other similar publications: Provided further, That it shall not be necessary to include in such statement the names of persons owning less than one per centum of the total amount of stock, bonds, mortgages, or other securities. A copy of such sworn statement shall be published in the second issue of such newspaper, magazine, or other publication printed *297 next after the filing of such statement. Any such publication shall be denied the privileges of the mail if it shall fail to comply with the provisions of this paragraph within ten days after notice by registered letter of such failure.

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We review from the standpoint of its validity under the Federal Constitution a judgment of civil contempt entered against petitioner, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in the courts of Alabama. The question presented is whether Alabama, consistently with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, can compel petitioner to reveal to the State's Attorney General the names and addresses of all its Alabama members and agents, without regard to their positions or functions in the Association. The judgment of contempt was based upon petitioner's refusal to comply fully with a court order requiring in part the production of membership lists. Petitioner's claim is that the order, in the circumstances shown by this record, violated rights assured to petitioner and its members under the Constitution.

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The question presented here is whether the provisions of a Los Angeles City ordinance restricting the distribution of handbills "abridge the freedom of speech and of the press secured against state invasion by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution."[1] The ordinance, § 28.06 of the Municipal Code of the City of Los Angeles. provides:

"No person shall distribute any hand-bill in any place under any circumstances, which does not have *61 printed on the cover, or the face thereof, the name and address of the following:
"(a) The person who printed, wrote, compiled or manufactured the same.
"(b) The person who caused the same to be distributed; provided, however, that in the case of a fictitious person or club, in addition to such fictitious name, the true names and addresses of the owners, managers or agents of the person sponsoring said hand-bill shall also appear thereon."
The petitioner was arrested and tried in a Los Angeles Municipal Court for violating this ordinance. It was stipulated that the petitioner had distributed handbills in Los Angeles, and two of them were presented in evidence. Each had printed on it the following:National Consumers Mobilization,Box 6533,Los Angeles 55, Calif.

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This is a proceeding pursuant to § 14 (a) of the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 to review an order of the Subversive Activities Control Board requiring the Communist Party of the United States to register as a Communist-action organization under § 7 of the Act. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has affirmed the Board's registration order. Because important questions of construction and constitutionality of the statute were raised by the Party's petition for certiorari, we brought the case here. 361 U. S. 951.

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This case presents the question whether certain disclosure requirements of the Ohio Campaign Expense Reporting Law, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3517.01 et seq. (1972 and Supp. 1981), can be constitutionally applied to the Socialist Workers Party, a minor political party which historically has been the object of harassment by government officials and private parties. The Ohio statute requires every political party to report the names and addresses of campaign contributors and recipients of campaign disbursements. In Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U. S. 1 (1976), this Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from compelling disclosures by a minor political party that can show a "reasonable probability" that the compelled disclosures will subject those identified to "threats, harassment, or reprisals." Id., at 74. Employing this test, a three-judge District Court for the Southern District of Ohio held that the Ohio statute is unconstitutional as applied to the Socialist Workers Party. We affirm.

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Margaret McIntyre, a resident of Westerville, Ohio, opposed her local school district's request for a tax levy. She expressed her opposition by preparing and distributing a handbill to persons attending a meeting concerning the levy. Some of the handbills identified her as the author, but others were signed "CONCERNED PARENTS AND TAX PAYERS." The handbills were not false, misleading, or libelous. A school official informed Mrs. McIntyre that the handbills did not conform to Ohio's election laws because they did not identify the author. Mrs. McIntyre nevertheless distributed the handbills at another meeting. The Ohio Elections Commission found that Mrs. McIntyre's conduct was unlawful and fined her $100. The local trial court reversed the Commission's decision, holding that the prohibition against anonymous handbilling was unconstitutional as it was applied to Mrs. McIntyre. The Ohio Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and reinstated the fine. The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court's decision. In 1960, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an author's decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960). Regulation of political speech is not permitted under the First Amendment unless the restriction is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. First Nat'l Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765 (1978). In 1989, the Court held that states have a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of their electorial process. Eu v. San Francisco City Democratic Central Comm., 489 U.S. 214 (1989). The Court had never before been asked to decide whether states could ban anonymous polictical handbilling.

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(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2009 1 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Syllabus DOE ET AL. v. REED, WASHINGTON SECRETARY OF STATE, ET AL. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS […]

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