Emory Law Journal


Overbroad laws trespass on First Amendment rights of expression. Overbroad coercion statutes, which prohibit communication limiting a listener¿s legitimate options, exist in a variety of states and municipalities. By failing to narrowly prohibit unlawful coercive speech, these overbroad statutes criminalize a broad range of protected First Amendment speech. These statutes can be particularly problematic for political actors because they can criminalize political bargains and discussion characteristic of the American political system. As the crime control model has grown, state prosecutors¿ charging power and discretion have vastly increased. This Comment argues for a judicial and legislative response to this problem and explains why legislators and judges should have a strong interest in invalidating and narrowing these overbroad coercion statutes. Ultimately, this Comment proposes a framework through which judges should invalidate these statutes and describes why legislators have a duty both to the Constitution and to themselves to proactively narrow these statutes to avoid overbreadth.