Talley v. California

Talley v. California
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued January 13–14, 1960
Decided March 7, 1960
Full case name Talley v. California
Citations 362 more)
80 S. Ct. 536; 4 L. Ed. 2d 559; 1960 U.S. LEXIS 1948
The distribution of anonymous handbills is protected by the First Amendment.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Black, joined by Warren, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart
Concurrence Harlan
Dissent Clark, joined by Frankfurter, Whittaker
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. I

Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States voided a Los Angeles city ordinance which forbade the distribution of any handbills in any place under any circumstances if the handbills did not contain the name and address of the person for whom it was prepared, distributed, or sponsored.

Talley is often cited for the proposition that identification requirements burden speech.

The Importance of Anonymous Speech

Talley v. California is notable for its exposition on anonymous speech. While looking at the historical applications of anonymous speech, the court points to two uses in particular that influenced their decision.

  1. Fear of Retaliation - Speaking anonymously protects those that criticize oppressive practices from the oppressors.
  2. Encourage Open Discource - Once protected, anonymous speech encourages the open discussion in matters of public importance.


Although the dissent also saw the important protections of anonymous speech, it did not see any danger in this particular instant. The right to speak anonymously had to weigh again the benefit of the public knowing the author. As the dissent saw no evidence that any harm would come to Talley by revelation of his identity, the public knowledge outweighed Talley's right to anonymous speech.

See also


External links

  • Text of Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960) is available from:  Justia 
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