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Brown v. Socialist Workers ‘74 Campaign Committee

United States Supreme Court
459 U.S. 87 (1982)


The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (plaintiff) was a political party in Ohio of approximately 60 people. The SWP sought to defeat capitalism and establish socialism via the political process. An Ohio law required candidates for political office to identify their political donors. The SWP brought suit against the State of Ohio (defendant), arguing that the law violated its First Amendment rights because disclosure of their donors would submit the SWP to additional harassment. The SWP presented evidence that its members endured hostility in the years leading up to the lawsuit: the SWP and its members received threatening phone calls and hate mail, property of the SWP and its members was vandalized and destroyed, the SWP’s literature was burned, and members of the SWP were fired from their employment due to their party affiliation. The District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled in favor of the SWP. The State of Ohio appealed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)

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