Does 'The Freedom of the Press' Include a Right to Anonymity? The Original Understanding

47 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2013 Last revised: 13 Oct 2013

See all articles by Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes

Date Written: October 12, 2013


This Article examines legal and historical evidence to determine whether, as some have argued, the original legal force of the First Amendment’s "freedom of the press" included a per se right to anonymous authorship. The Article concludes that, except in cases in which the press had been abused, it did. Thus, from an originalist point of view, Supreme Court cases such as Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which upheld statutes requiring disclosure of donors to political advertising, were erroneously decided.

Keywords: constitution, constitutional law, citizens united, anonymous, anonymity, First Amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, press freedom, original understanding, original intent, original meaning, original public meaning, disclosure, political advertising, campaign finance, campaign spending

JEL Classification: K3, K29, K39

Suggested Citation

Natelson, Robert G., Does 'The Freedom of the Press' Include a Right to Anonymity? The Original Understanding (October 12, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Robert G. Natelson (Contact Author)

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes ( email )

727 E. 16th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
United States
303-279-6536 (Phone)


Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics

Under construction: SSRN citations will be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information