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ST. LOUIS – A Missouri Revised Statute outlaws the American tradition of anonymous political speech. Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a First Amendment challenge to the statute on behalf of a Ferguson resident.
The ACLU client, a Ferguson businessman, wants to distribute a flyer that compares and contrasts two candidates running for city council. He fears retribution if the materials contain his name and address, as required by Missouri Revised Statute Section 130.031.8.
“The First Amendment firmly protects political speech because robust debate about political ideas and candidates is necessary for self-governance,” explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “From the founding of our nation, anonymous speech has played an important role in political debate.”
“The state is trying to control how Missourians can participate in political debates. The ACLU is protecting a political tradition of anonymous speech, which can be traced back to our founding, including the Federalist Papers published in the 1780s,” says Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “April 7 is an important election for Ferguson and we should not silence even one voice.”
The ACLU of Missouri is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that defends and expands the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians guaranteed under the United States and Missouri Constitutions, through its litigation, legislative and public education programs. It is an affiliate of the national ACLU.