Virginia v. Hicks, 539 U.S. 113, 12 (2003)

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Souter, J., concurring

case, that the RRHA trespass policy as a whole prohibits a "substantial" amount of protected speech in relation to its many legitimate applications. That is not surprising, since the overbreadth doctrine's concern with "chilling" protected speech "attenuates as the otherwise unprotected behavior that it forbids the State to sanction moves from 'pure speech' toward conduct." Broadrick, supra, at 615. Rarely, if ever, will an overbreadth challenge succeed against a law or regulation that is not specifically addressed to speech or to conduct necessarily associated with speech (such as picketing or demonstrating). Applications of the RRHA policy that violate the First Amendment can still be remedied through as-applied litigation, but the Virginia Supreme Court should not have used the "strong medicine" of overbreadth to invalidate the entire RRHA trespass policy. Whether respondent may challenge his conviction on other grounds—and whether those claims have been properly preserved—are issues we leave open on remand.

* * *

For these reasons, we reverse the judgment of the Virginia Supreme Court and remand the case for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Justice Souter, with whom Justice Breyer joins, concurring.

I join the Court's opinion and add this afterword to flag an issue of no consequence here, but one on which a future case might turn. In comparing invalid applications against valid ones for purposes of the First Amendment overbreadth doctrine, the Supreme Court of Virginia apparently assumed that the appropriate focus of the analysis was the "unwritten" element of the housing authority's trespass policy, that is, the requirement that nonresidents distributing literature or demonstrating on the property obtain prior authorization.

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