Supreme Court Hears Violent Video Game Case Nov 2

The US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on November 2 in Schwarzenegger vs Entertainment Merchants Association, regarding a California law against selling or renting violent games to kids.

Court watcher SCOTUSblog posted the schedule on Monday. The games case is one of seven from which new Justice Elena Kagan has not recused herself; her previous work as US solicitor general has required her to step down from six of the cases in the upcoming term.

This is the last stop for the 2005 law, ruled unconstitutional in a federal district court in August 2007 and at the appellate level in February 2009. The law wants to levy fines against retailers who rent or sell to minors video games depicting "especially heinous, cruel or depraved" violence, such as torture.

Federal courts have thrown out the law, finding no evidence establishing that games "are any more harmful than violent television, movies, internet sites or other speech-related exposures". That's part of the requirement for the constitutional validity of such a content restriction, which necessarily infringes on First Amendment protections of free speech. Laws restricting the sale of pornography are an example.

You can read up on California's argument why its law is valid; it argues, among other things, that there's a double standard in protecting kids from sexual imagery but not violence.

While this will be the final decision on this law (decisions and orders come some months after oral arguments) it will, of course, bear huge ramifications for more than just California. State lawmakers have regularly tested the waters, losing every time such laws hit the courts. The governor of Utah, a deeply conservative state, last year vetoed a violent-games bill and cited its likely failure in the federal courts and the expense of litigating it as a big reason why. So a victory for California could embolden other statehouses.

A defeat, well, I don't think anyone will ever stop trying to regulate video games. It's a great emotional issue that can animate conservatives and liberals alike and gives the appearance that a legislator is doing something.

Supreme Court To Hear Video Game Case On November 2 [MTV Multiplayer]


Comments

    So a guy that made his name in violent entertainment is taking the entertainment biz to court over violent content?

    I think if they're arguiing it be a crime to sell games with this content to minors, that I can back them on this.

      That said, if its an attempt to modify and control content in videogames... no sir.

        Agreed. Restricting sale to minors is good, but modifying content for such a purpose is not.

        That's exactly what will happen if it gets passed, eventually.

      The thing is, America already has a ratings system which says game X is appropriate for Age Y and up.

      If it's failing in the ratings it assesses for games, the issue shouldn't be to enforce more nebulous laws in a single state, it should be to seek reform of the rules governing game ratings.

      It would also probably mean more costs for game producers who would be obliged to submit the game for clearance with a California state authority, as well as the ESRB.

      While the intentions may be good, the way they are going about it is ridiculous, it's like the Internet Filter in australia, sure keeping illegal content such as child porn out of australian homes is a good idea, implementing it through a system which further reduces internet speeds, and doesn't actually prevent people who want the content from accessing it but rather only prevents people from accidentally finding it is not a good idea though. Not to mention all the questions of political censorship.

        Just recently it came to my attention that not just protecting children bullshit.
        But also content regarding Euthanasia will also be on the blacklist.
        So people suffering terribly, cannot inform themselves on the most humane way to end it. Should that be their choice.

    'Schwarzenegger vs Entertainment Merchants Association'.
    So...when's this out?
    Straight to DVD release?

    It's also imposing some very steep fines on people that may (or may not) be acting in good faith. For example, a sales clerk falling for a fake ID could be fined thousands. Having worked with controlled substances in Canada, I can assure you that working under these conditions is extremely stressful where any slight mishap could ruin you.

      Can you still get away with "we reserve the right to refuse sale"?

      If in doubt just decline. I understand that it's turning away business but a 5$ movie vs a fine ranging in the thousands, the safe choice is clear.

      I would like to believe that a law put in place to protect minors, would see said minors punished for fraud however.

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