Supreme Court strikes down California video game law


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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors, saying the 2005 law violates constitutional free speech protections.

The 7-2 ruling, which came on the last day of the court’s current session, was greeted with a collective sigh of relief from many in the entertainment industry who saw the law as having broad ramifications for not just games but also movies, music and books that deal with topics that touch on violence.


‘Today, the Supreme Court affirmed what we have always known,’ said Michael Gallagher, chief executive of the Entertainment Software Assn., a games industry group, ‘that free speech protections apply every bit as much to video games as they do other forms of creative expression like books, movies and music.’

The ruling, however, came as a dissapointment to parent advocacy groups that lobbied in favor of the law.

‘The fight is far from over,’ said James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco nonprofit group that worked with California lawmakers to craft the ban. ‘An overwhelmingly high percentage of parents would support a bill that would prevent their kids from walking into a store and buying the most ultra-violent and sexually violent of video games.’

The court’s decision, however, sided with the game industry. David Savage, who covers the Supreme Court for the Los Angeles Times, reported that Justice Antonin Scalia, in writing the majority opinion, said: ‘Like books, plays and movies, video games communicate ideas. The most basic principle of 1st Amendment law is that government has no power to restrict expression because of its content.’


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-- Alex Pham