Bad Tendency Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Bad tendency doctrine is a doctrine used in interpreting the First Amendment that allows governments to infringe upon freedom of speech even though the amendment specifically forbids that. According to this doctrine, the government will have the capacity to restrict certain speech if it can prove that a speech will have a tendency to cause or incite illegal activities. For example, a newspaper may be prosecuted for printing even the truth about a pending litigation if it tends to obstruct administration of justice. This doctrine derives from English common law. Therefore, it has been criticized that it comes from a time before the First Amendment and hence cannot be reconciled with. But courts have ignored this criticism.