Cutler Files InvestigationPage 3
The Right to Anonymous SpeechThe First Amendment protects the right to anonymous speech.
See Watchtower Bible &Tract Soc’y v. Vill. of Stratton
, 536 U.S. 150, 160, 166–67 (2002);
Buckley v. Am. Constitutional Law Found., Inc.
, 525 U.S. 182, 199–200 (1999);
McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n
, 514 U.S.334, 342 (1995);
Talley v. California
, 362 U.S. 60, 64–65 (1960). Anonymous speech, whetherartistic or political, has played an “important role in the progress of mankind.”
514U.S. at 341. Speakers choose anonymity for a variety of reasons—fear of retaliation, concernabout ostracism, or an interest in preserving privacy.
at 342. Whatever the reasons, courtsare broadly protective of the right of authors to remain anonymous. Such anonymity protectsspeakers from persecution, while allowing them to criticize oppressive practice and laws.
, 362 U.S. at 64. There is a “rich tradition of First Amendment protection for anonymouspolitical discourse” and “unpopular viewpoints would often not be expressed if attribution werealways required.”
Yes for Life Political Action Committee v. Webster
, 74 F.Supp.2d 37, 39(D.Me. 1999) (enjoining enforcement of disclosure requirements against a PAC).Mr. Cutler has suggested that
has been overruled, but that view finds no supportin the case law. The right to anonymity is, like almost all areas of First Amendment protection,subject to limits, but the right has not by any stretch been eliminated, nor has the case lawsupporting it been overruled. Supreme Court cases, such as
, are not overruled until theSupreme Court says they are overruled.
See Rodriguez de Quijas v. Shearson/American Express
,490 U.S. 477, 484 (1989) (“If a precedent of this Court has direct application in a case, yetappears to rest on reasons rejected in some other line of decisions, the [lower courts] shouldfollow the case which directly controls, leaving to this Court the prerogative of overruling itsown decisions.”). That Justice Thomas, as a lone dissenter, perceives a contradiction between
and portions of the Court’s opinion in
does not even hint that four moreJustices see the same contradiction; in fact, the failure of any justices to join Justice Thomas’sdissent is more strongly suggestive of the opposite view.
See Citizens United v. FEC
, 130 S.Ct.876, 980 (Thomas, J. dissenting) (suggesting that the Court undermines McIntyre by recognizingthe validity of disclaimer/disclosure requirements as applied to well-funded corporatecontributors).