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Overbreadth is a term used in the context of Constitutional Law to describe a statute or regulation that reaches beyond the scope of the subject matter it was originally intended to cover, causing it to cover activity that it was not intended to cover. Thus, a law is unconstitutionally overbroad if it regulates substantially more speech than the Constitution allows to be regulated. Any statute, law, or regulation can be struck down for being overbroad. Consequently, a person to whom the law constitutionally can be applied can argue that it would be unconstitutional as applied to others.

Overbreadth is closely related to, but also distinct from, the concept of vagueness. In determining whether a state statute is too vague or overbroad, the reviewing court will analyze the statute as the highest court of the state has interpreted it - meaning if a lower state court has interpreted the statute in question narrowly, it is that narrow interpretation that counts for overbreadth or vagueness analysis.

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]