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Supreme Court Rules: California Can’t Ban Violent Video Games |

Looks like another win is in the books for the Video Game Industry. The supreme court voted 7-2 to uphold a federal appeals court decision to throw out the proposed ban of violent video game sales to minors. Read the rest of the story below.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to let California regulate the sale or rental of violent video games to children, saying governments do not have the power to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed” despite complaints about graphic violence.
On a 7-2 vote, the high court upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out the state’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento had ruled that the law violated minors’ rights under the First Amendment, and the high court agreed.
“No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion. “But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”
The California law would have prohibited the sale or rental of violent games to anyone under 18. Retailers who violated the act would have been fined up to $1,000 for each infraction.
More than 46 million American households have at least one video-game system, with the industry bringing in at least $18 billion in 2010.
Unlike depictions of “sexual conduct,” Scalia said there is no tradition in the United States of restricting children’s access to depictions of violence, pointing out the violence in the original depiction of many popular children’s fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and Snow White.
Hansel and Gretel kill their captor by baking her in an oven, Cinderella’s evil stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by doves and the evil queen in Snow White is forced to wear red hot slippers and dance until she is dead, Scalia said.
“Certainly the books we give children to read — or read to them when they are younger — contain no shortage of gore,” Scalia added.
But Justice Clarence Thomas, who dissented from the decision along with Justice Stephen Breyer, said the majority read something into the First Amendment that isn’t there.
“The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that “the freedom of speech,” as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians,” Thomas wrote.

Source: Associated Press

  • Glad to hear it got voted down.

  • Jay

    Despite what peoples’ personal opinions are, Clarence Thompson did make a good point. Minors do not have the same freedoms as consenting adults. If they did, then the schools would have to allow freedom of religion in school as well, such as prayer and worship, as long as it doesn’t interfere with normal school activity (as in class time, not breaks like lunch, recess, in between periods, etc). Heck, even the teachers get in trouble for bringing a Bible to school, even if they don’t read it during class. Too bad so many like to pick and choose what freedoms we should and shouldn’t have as pertaining to their own personal interests and not collectively.

    With that said, I think retailers should still try to prevent sales to minors because a lot of parents don’t want their kids getting a hold of certain types of games (or other media for that matter). Since minors are not consenting adults, this is still going to be an issue and we’ll probably still see lawsuits against retailers who did sell M-rated games to minors, even if it wasn’t in their policy. In that sense, retailers are still held accountable. They just won’t get fined on the basis of law.

  • Article title is a bit misleading, no? No one’s suggesting a ban on violent video games but rather age-based restrictions on those to whom such games can be sold.

  • @premieresoupir, yeah, I thought the same.