The lights are on
The Supreme Court has finally ruled on the constitutionality of the California law (Brown v. EMA) that would have banned the sale of violent video games to minors.
The court struck down the law 7-2 using the First Amendment as the reasoning. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion, with Justices Thomas and Breyer in dissent.
"The act does not comport with the First Amendment," opens the opinion's syllabus. "Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And 'the basic principles of freedom of speech . . . do not vary' with a new and different communication medium."
In 2005, the state of California passed a law that banned the sale of violent video games to anyone under 18, and required a warning sticker on the package beyond the normal ESRB rating. The law stipulated a maximum fine of $1,000 for each infraction. Then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law. The case previously bore his name because he represented the state of California, which is why current governor Jerry Brown's name is now on the case.
Proponents of the law claim that violent video games can be harmful to minors and should be specially treated as such, while opponents rally under the First Amendment banner and that the ESRB's ratings are sufficient.
What's next? Nothing for this particular law says Tom Goldstein, publisher of the court analysis SCOTUS blog. "For those waiting on the video games case, if your side loses, you cannot just hit restart, respawn, and try again."
Still, that doesn't mean that other states could try and pass similar, but differently worded laws to try and re-state their case. However, by the Supreme Court ruling on it, it wouldn't seem to give future laws a lot of wiggle room.
We'll have more info and analysis as we get it, so stay tuned!
To read the full opinions, head over to the Supreme Court's webpage (check on the right-hand site).
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
Very proud day to be a gamer. I really approve of the court's decision.
Kudos to the Judges for acknowledging the First Amendment. The two judges that voted for the bill should be slapped in the face and placed on probation until they can comprehend our constitution.
Awesome!! Always knew the law wouldn't pass. It was just plain stupid
This show that its your responsability not a law that decise your decicion
7-2?!?! HA HA HA PWNED!!!!! WHAT NOW PEOPLE WHO ARE AGAINST VIDEO GAMES AND ALLOWING KIDS TO PLAY THEM???????????
Gamers Unite! Ha ha.
Ahhhh. It's a good day :)
SARCASM: I am glad taxpayer money was spent on this critical and difficult issue. No one could have predicted that the first amendment always applies and not just when convenient!
ACTUAL: The third paragraph says it all. Why did it take all of this money, time and circus frenzy for law to say, "We have the first amendment and it applies to things in the country it exists in." ? Dumb
Hooray for videogames not being singled out again! We shall chalk this one up as a 'W' for now. I'm glad that they are looked at as creative medium now, and rightfully so. A lot of people put a lot of work into the making of these games for our entertainment, so I'm happy for them. And the ESRB ratings are about as clear-cut as you can get, so I never understood the issue there...
How about they make a law that penalizes parents for not being more responsible, instead of attacking the industry itself? Or, even better, just let it go...
High-five to all the parents out there who actually regulate what their children see and play!
Yeah! Take that, you stupid Californian politicians!
This gives me a few points of hope for humanity.
looks like gamers win again!
Well this is good news, hooray! :D