Chilling Effect Definition

In constitutional law, the inhibition or discouragement of the legitimate exercise of a a constitutional right, especially one protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, by the potential or threatened prosecution under, or application of, a law or sanction.
Webster's New World Law

(law) A discouraging effect, especially on certain forms of officially legal speech.

The hate crimes bill would allow recent racist statements by a suspect to be used as evidence that a crime was racially motivated; some legislators were concerned that this provision could have an undue chilling effect on speech that could be construed as racist.

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