Constitutional Law – Freedom of Speech and Press – Prohibitions on the Publication or Distribution of Anonymous Campaign Literature
Defendant was charged under a federal statute’ with the publication and distribution of a pamphlet which concerned a candidate for United States Senator in a special senatorial election and which did not contain the name of the person or group responsible for its publication and distribution as required by the statute. The defendant alleged that his occupation as a farmer made him particularly subject to regulation by the federal government, and that he feared coercion or reprisals from the federal representatives with whom he dealt if he complied with the statute’s disclosure requirement. On motion to dismiss the information on the ground that the statute was in violation of the first amendment of the Constitution, held, motion denied. Congress has the power to punish the publication and distribution of unsigned pamphlets concerning announced candidates in federal elections because the value to the public in knowing the source and purpose of such materials when evaluating their content outweighs the asserted right to publish and distribute political literature anonymously. United States v. Scott, 195 F. Supp. 440 (D.N.D. 1961).