Supreme Court Says No to Video Game Law

It’s a great day for parental freedom.  The U.S. Supreme Court this morning struck down a California law that restricts the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. 

"Even where the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion. The ruling was 7-2.

The Supreme Court’s ruling unambiguously reaffirms that video games, which have become increasingly complex and in some cases more expensive to produce than movies, also qualify for full First Amendment protection.

Government lawyers called attention to Postal 2, which lets players go on murderous rampages.

Scalia noted that books often viewed as suitable for high school students are full of violent material. "Certainly the books we give children to read–or read to them when they are younger–contain no shortage of gore: Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed. As her just deserts for trying to poison Snow White, the wicked queen is made to dance in red hot slippers ’till she fell dead on the floor, a sad example of envy and jealousy.’"

The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the U.S. computer and video game industry, welcomed the ruling.

"Today, the Supreme Court affirmed what we have always known–that free speech protections apply every bit as much to video games as they do to other forms of creative expression like books, movies and music," said Michael D. Gallagher, ESA’s president and CEO of the ESA, in a statement. "The Court declared forcefully that content-based restrictions on games are unconstitutional; and that parents, not government bureaucrats, have the right to decide what is appropriate for their children."

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