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Response or Comment

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Presently, forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have statutes that require the disclosure of some party's identity (for example, an author or a sponsor) on political literature pertaining to elections. The most common explanations given for these statutes are that they deter fraud and libel in the election arena and that they provide valuable information to the voters. Because these statutes regulate core political speech, however, they necessarily implicate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Although campaign disclosure laws have been both struck down and sustained by state courts reviewing appealed convictions, the decisions have been disappointingly brief given the magnitude of the interests involved. The federal court case law has also been sparse.

In the two most recent decisions, the supreme courts of North Carolina and Ohio upheld their respective disclosure statutes. The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari on the 1993 Ohio decision and will hear arguments in October 1994. This article discusses the background for the analysis of disclosure statutes, including the statutes and state court holdings as well as the Supreme Court precedent, paying particular attention to both the Ohio statute and the North Carolina provision. The two are sufficiently different such that a ruling sustaining the Ohio statute will not dispose of every issue raised by the North Carolina statute.



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