Yesterday evening saw the filing deadline for supporting briefs in Schwarzenegger vs Entertainment Merchants Association - the Supreme Court case involving a California statute restricting the sale or rental of violent video game sales. Nine US states oppose the law.
Rhode Island, Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Washington, plus Puerto Rico jointly filed a brief supporting the games industry. Their paper made a range of arguments, saying California's law both treads on unconstitutional censorship and, worse, could waste law enforcement resources on defendants who could claim a games-made-me-do-it defence under the precedents set in a ruling favourable to California.
"California's statute legitimises the off-loading of personal responsibility on to a video game," wrote Patrick Lynch, the attorney general of Rhode Island, in a brief signed by his nine counterparts.
Briefs supporting the games industry also were filed by the Motion Picture Association of America and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. "To be insulated from depictions and descriptions of violence, one would have to be insulated from the great works of religion, history, art, literature and culture," said the booksellers brief.
The California statute, twice found unconstitutional in federal courts, sets penalties for the sale or rental of extremely violent video games to minors. It is not based on selling games of a certain ESRB classification, such as M, but on a broader standard related to violence. California seeks to have violence set as a new and separate standard justifying the content-based restriction by the government of expressive works.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Schwarzenegger vs Entertainment Merchants Association on November 2.
States Join Media Groups In Briefs Opposing California's Violent Video Game Ban [LegalTimes Blog via Game Politics]