Overbreadth Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Overbreadth doctrine is a principle of judicial review 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. A statute that is broadly written which deters free expression can be struck down on its face because of its chilling effect even if it also prohibits acts that may legitimately be forbidden. 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.