CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says a state law banning anonymous election pamphlets is unconstitutional.
Morrisey issued the opinion Oct. 17 following a request for one from Secretary of State Mac Warner. Both are Republicans.
In his request, Warner notes that his office has received several complaints about anonymous leaflets and requests that his office enforce West Virginia Code section 3-8-12(a), which states that “a person may not publish, issue or circulate, or cause to be published, issued or circulated, any anonymous letter, circular, placard … or other publication supporting or aiding the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate.”
In his opinion, Morrisey says the state law “violates the First Amendment because it is overbroad and not narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest.”
Morrisey also says a federal court decision in West Virginia in 1996 found an older version of the same law about freedom of expression prohibitions concerning anonymous pamphlets was unconstitutional.