5 TortSource 1 (2002-2003)

handle is hein.journals/tortso5 and id is 1 raw text is: Vol. 5, No. 1
Fall 2002

American Bar Association

Protecting ,nnmu                                            Speech
Megan Gray and Sara Rose
n June 2002, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the constitutional protection for anonymous
speech. Watchtower Bible and Tract Socy v. Stratton, 536 U.S.  , No. 00-1737, slip op. (2002).
The Court held in Watchtower that a statute enacted by the small town of Stratton, Ohio, vio-
lated the First Amendment by compelling people who wished to go on private residential prop-
erty to promote a cause to first register their identities and intentions with town officials and
obtain a permit that they would then be required to display upon request of a resident or police
officer. Watchtower is the latest in a line of Supreme Court cases upholding the value of anony-
mous speech. During the past 50 years, the High Court has repeatedly struck down laws that
prevented people from speaking anonymously The Court has said any law restricting the right
to speak anonymously must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.                                                                                    c
The protection of anonymous speech in the United States goes back to before the Republic
was born. In fact, the tolerance of the Founding Fathers toward the right to speak anony-
mously is not surprising: Many of the ideas incorporated into the Constitution were first pub-                                                                          -
lished anonymously in the Federalist Papers under the pseudonym Publius, and Thomas
Pames Common Sense was initially signed An Englishman.
continued on page 4

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