Overbreadth Doctrine (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
A principle of JUDICIAL REVIEW that holds that a law is invalid if it punishes constitutionally protected speech or conduct along with speech or conduct that the government may limit to further a compelling government interest.
Legislatures sometimes pass laws that infringe on the FIRST AMENDMENT freedoms of religion, speech, press, and peaceable assembly. When a legislature passes such a law, a person with a sufficient interest affected by the legislation may challenge its constitutionality by bringing suit against the federal, state, or local sovereignty that passed it. One common argument in First Amendment challenges is that the statute is overbroad.
Under the overbreadth doctrine, a statute that affects First Amendment rights is unconstitutional if it prohibits more protected speech or activity than is necessary to achieve a compelling government interest. The excessive intrusion on First Amendment rights, beyond what the government had a compelling interest to restrict, renders the law unconstitutional.
If a statute is overbroad, the court may be able to save the statute by striking only the section that is overbroad. If the court cannot sever the statute and save the constitutional provisions, it may invalidate the entire statute.
The case of Brockett v. Spokane Arcades, Inc., 472 U.S. 491, 105 S....
(The entire section is 419 words.)
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