Supreme Court Case Transcripts Now Online

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Supreme Court Case Transcripts Now Online

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For those who couldn't make the trip, transcripts from today's Schwarzenegger v. EMA hearing at the Supreme Court are now available online.

It's November 2 and if you've been paying any attention at all you'll know that means it's the Big Day: The day that attorneys for the state of California and the videogame industry present their arguments over the constitutionality of California's proposed videogame law to the Supreme Court of the United States. Pretty heady stuff.

Fortunately, for those interested in such matters - and that really should be all of you - the full transcript of the arguments is now available at Scribd. It's not exactly a fun read but it is thought-provoking, illustrating the many concerns about the law held by all three sides in the debate. Justice Antonin Scalia got things rolling when he asked Zackery P. Morazzini, the Deputy Attorney General of California, what exactly constitutes "deviant" violence under the law, pointing out that many of Grimm's fairy tales are in fact "quite grim" themselves.

"I'm concerned about the producer of games who has to know what he has to do in order to comply with the law... A law that has criminal penalties has to be clear," he said. "And how is the manufacturer to know whether a particular violent game is covered or not?"

Justice Elena Kagan also pressed Morazzini about what would be excluded from First Amendment protections under the law, noting that the state's definition of "morbid violence" was vague. "How do we separate violent games that are covered from violent games just as violent that are not covered?" she asked.

But the Court hammered away at the game industry as well, asking attorney Paul M. Smith why exactly it believed that the government shouldn't have the right to keep videogames that include such acts as setting schoolgirls on fire and then urinating on them out of the hands of ten-year-olds. Justice Samuel Alit also noted that the medium of videogames was utterly beyond the imaginings of the men who created the First Amendment.

"We have here a new - a new medium that cannot possibly have been envisioned at the time when the First Amendment was ratified," Alito said. "So this presents a question that could not have been specifically contemplated at the time when the First Amendment was adopted. And to say, well, because nobody was - because descriptions in a book of violence were not considered a category of speech that was appropriate for limitation at the time when the First Amendment was violated is entirely artificial."

The arguments have been made and the matter is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, but it's still interesting to see how both sides argued their cases and how the judges responded to each. And we still have plenty of time to discuss the matter and make predictions: A ruling isn't expected to be made until at least February 2011.

via: Joystiq

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So its going ok right?

Andy Chalk:
Justice Elena Kagan also pressed Morazzini about what would be excluded from First Amendment protections under the law, noting that the state's definition of "morbid violence" was vague. "How do we separate violent games that are covered from violent games just as violent that are not covered?" she asked.

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Anyway, sounds like it went... well? Hopefully this'll all be settled in time for supper.

I love Justice Scalia.

Andy Chalk:
"We have here a new - a new medium that cannot possibly have been envisioned at the time when the First Amendment was ratified," Alito said. "So this presents a question that could not have been specifically contemplated at the time when the First Amendment was adopted. And to say, well, because nobody was - because descriptions in a book of violence were not considered a category of speech that was appropriate for limitation at the time when the First Amendment was violated is entirely artificial."

I am not a US citizen, but that argument is just bull. I am preety sure the "Founding Fathers" never envisioned cinema, radio and graphic novels either. Does that mean all those mediums should be exempt from First Amendment protection as well?

February? The suspense will kill me. Ok, not really, but I really want to know soon what is going to happen.

Andy Chalk:

But the Court hammered away at the game industry as well, asking attorney Paul M. Smith why exactly it believed that government shouldn't have the right to keep videogames that include such acts as setting schoolgirls on fire and then urinating on them out of the hands of ten-year-olds. Justice Samuel Alit also noted that the medium of videogames was utterly beyond the imaginings of the men who created the First Amendment.

"We have here a new - a new medium that cannot possibly have been envisioned at the time when the First Amendment was ratified," Alito said. "So this presents a question that could not have been specifically contemplated at the time when the First Amendment was adopted. And to say, well, because nobody was - because descriptions in a book of violence were not considered a category of speech that was appropriate for limitation at the time when the First Amendment was violated is entirely artificial."

Um, that section doesn't make it sound like it's going too well. It shows that the Court might not view games as necessarily protected by the First Amendment, which is bad, bad news indeed.

I love Alito. "Derp strict constructionism derp."
Even Scalia, the activist judge, knows you have to pull your head out of Washington's ass (but not Jefferson's, who never existed) every now and again and argue issues relevant to 21st century life.

You create your society based around something you don't just cut corners when you feel like it.

That would be the basis of my 'Rebuttal' to that crap.

Just started reading and of course Scalia doesn't disappoint, making a joke in his opening statement.

That's funny... today is my birthday and I got Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney as a gift. Didn't even mean for that to happen.

No way I'm reading all that now, but I bookmarked the page and I'm going to read through it later. I'm extremely nervous.

bladester1:
February? The suspense will kill me. Ok, not really, but I really want to know soon what is going to happen.

Likewise, I was rather hoping we'd hear something in the next few days... this should be a no brainer to them. Throw that bloody law at Yee's face and say video games are protected. I'm gonna cross my fingers and pray each night we win against this bastard.

Tom Phoenix:

Andy Chalk:
"We have here a new - a new medium that cannot possibly have been envisioned at the time when the First Amendment was ratified," Alito said. "So this presents a question that could not have been specifically contemplated at the time when the First Amendment was adopted. And to say, well, because nobody was - because descriptions in a book of violence were not considered a category of speech that was appropriate for limitation at the time when the First Amendment was violated is entirely artificial."

I am not a US citizen, but that argument is just bull. I am preety sure the "Founding Fathers" never envisioned cinema, radio and graphic novels either. Does that mean all those mediums should be exempt from First Amendment protection as well?

You, sir, have successfully ninja'd me.

Timbydude:

Andy Chalk:

But the Court hammered away at the game industry as well, asking attorney Paul M. Smith why exactly it believed that government shouldn't have the right to keep videogames that include such acts as setting schoolgirls on fire and then urinating on them out of the hands of ten-year-olds. Justice Samuel Alit also noted that the medium of videogames was utterly beyond the imaginings of the men who created the First Amendment.

"We have here a new - a new medium that cannot possibly have been envisioned at the time when the First Amendment was ratified," Alito said. "So this presents a question that could not have been specifically contemplated at the time when the First Amendment was adopted. And to say, well, because nobody was - because descriptions in a book of violence were not considered a category of speech that was appropriate for limitation at the time when the First Amendment was violated is entirely artificial."

Um, that section doesn't make it sound like it's going too well. It shows that the Court might not view games as necessarily protected by the First Amendment, which is bad, bad news indeed.

That's what I was thinking, too.

My Favorite Qoute of the Transcript by JUSTICE SCALIA

"JUSTICE GINSBURG: Is there -- you've been asked questions about the vagueness of this and the problem for the seller to know what's good and what's bad. California -- does California have any kind of an advisory opinion, an office that will view these videos and say, yes, this belongs in this, what did you call it, deviant violence, and this one is just violent but not deviant? Is there -- is there any kind of opinion that the -- that the seller can get to know which games can be sold to minors and which ones can't?

MR. MORAZZINI: Not that I'm aware of, Justice Ginsburg.

JUSTICE SCALIA: You should consider creating such a one. You might call it the California office of censorship."

Tom Phoenix:

Andy Chalk:
"We have here a new - a new medium that cannot possibly have been envisioned at the time when the First Amendment was ratified," Alito said. "So this presents a question that could not have been specifically contemplated at the time when the First Amendment was adopted. And to say, well, because nobody was - because descriptions in a book of violence were not considered a category of speech that was appropriate for limitation at the time when the First Amendment was violated is entirely artificial."

I am not a US citizen, but that argument is just bull. I am preety sure the "Founding Fathers" never envisioned cinema, radio and graphic novels either. Does that mean all those mediums should be exempt from First Amendment protection as well?

This is also a very, very good point.

DJDarque:

Tom Phoenix:

Andy Chalk:
"We have here a new - a new medium that cannot possibly have been envisioned at the time when the First Amendment was ratified," Alito said. "So this presents a question that could not have been specifically contemplated at the time when the First Amendment was adopted. And to say, well, because nobody was - because descriptions in a book of violence were not considered a category of speech that was appropriate for limitation at the time when the First Amendment was violated is entirely artificial."

I am not a US citizen, but that argument is just bull. I am preety sure the "Founding Fathers" never envisioned cinema, radio and graphic novels either. Does that mean all those mediums should be exempt from First Amendment protection as well?

This is also a very, very good point.

Well said, but yeah that same arguing point came up at their time as well.

Which is a good thing and a bad thing.

Books got the 'art' label and so did most traditional forms of visual art. That's why in the US I can make a statue of Sarah Palin getting anal from a grizzly bear and it'd provoke discussion, but no one could ban it from being publicly shown.

The radio, television, and comic books all took a self-regulation approach and in the case of radio and television allowed the FCC a say (it's not as much as people blow it out to be) in what content can be broadcasted since technically local governments had a stake in their airwaves.

Video games sort of fall in between these and California isn't happy with the ESRB and companies self-regulating themselves it seems.

It's at the Super Court (bwahaha) where it's merit will be placed amongst those forms of media that have came before.

I like page 7 of the transcpits

It features bugs bunny and common sense. Go Justice Scalia and Justice Sotomayor....i think.

Also Page 57 and 58 is a good read as well.

Dear God Morazzini even says he hasn't played Mortal COmbat but says it will probaly be a canadite for being prohibited. I love what Justice Kagan says to that LOL.

"We have here a new - a new medium that cannot possibly have been envisioned at the time when the First Amendment was ratified," Alito said. "So this presents a question that could not have been specifically contemplated at the time when the First Amendment was adopted. And to say, well, because nobody was - because descriptions in a book of violence were not considered a category of speech that was appropriate for limitation at the time when the First Amendment was violated is entirely artificial."

Mr. Alito, may I direct your extremely uninformed little mind to the works of the Marquis de Sade, who published his EXTREMELY deviant and offensive and controversial works in the mid to late 1700's, and would have been well known to the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (if only by scandalous reputation).

So to say that they couldn't have conceived of anyone ever coming up with graphic and awful (fictional) acts as a form of entertainment is utterly ridiculous.

There has been some success in limiting the distribution of such items to minors at the point of sale, but to prosecute someone for PRODUCING the work in the first place is 100% against the very words in the Constitution, a fact that was completely within the understanding of the framers of the document in the late 18th century.

Also, I kind of thought that guessing what the "Founding Fathers" were thinking at the time they wrote the Constitution was exactly the kind of "liberal activist" thinking that the "strict constructionists" hate so much. So why are they doing it in order to justify how banning GTA4 is different from banning a book?

by the way, some of the examples shown in the State's video clip of "extreme violence" are also from extremely BAD games that hardly anyone ever played.

Wow, I read a bit of it (the first 10 pages) and they are really tearing this guy a new one. They cut him off 3/4 of the time.

Bravo.

I do love how Morazzini kept getting cut off every time he tried to make his weak, weak case. It looks like the court just wasn't taking any crap from him today...

cefm:

Mr. Alito, may I direct your extremely uninformed little mind to the works of the Marquis de Sade, who published his EXTREMELY deviant and offensive and controversial works in the mid to late 1700's, and would have been well known to the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (if only by scandalous reputation).

Well yeah, but his works and a lot of other controversial writers at the time were successfully censored during that era.

The difference comes with how some people view the interactive part of video games.

In a book you can excuse yourself by saying that you've simply watched deviant behavior. For good or bad tho'; you can take a game from the Elder Scroll series and say the creators purposely placed fiendish acts in the world for people to partake if they wanted to. That's where the difference lies and that's where the subject of art plays such a big role.

That's where performance art and street art sort of still gets censored. Ever heard of Carolee Schneemann? Look up "Interior Scroll".

I can honestly say the framers of the Constitution knew of deviant behavior and of art that wasn't always considered classy. (Jefferson and Franklin had great raunchy art collections. LoL)

Luckily tho' the document is a living document, and it seems to have all around went well in our favor. I think both sides defending and accusing took good solid hits from the Court, but all in all for the good of art.

Video games are art, and it is a new form of media for our generation.

Cryo84R:
I love Justice Scalia.

He is awesome. I may not agree with some of his political views, but you can count on him being an amusing justice that brings some real sense to these cases. I thought he was clever when I was taking ConLaw in college, and it seems that this is still true today.

On topic, I guess we won't know how it will go for a while. I'm going to check this stuff out and look at my own sites that cover this sort of stuff later.

But... for those who may be concerned, i've seen transcripts or listened to Audio recordings of Supreme Court arguments being presented before, and this sounds pretty normal. The justices tend to pick at the arguments of both sides quite alot, so you guys should not freak out too much seeing these guys smack around the gaming argument here. That's just what these justices do.

Yureina:

Cryo84R:
I love Justice Scalia.

He is awesome. I may not agree with some of his political views, but you can count on him being an amusing justice that brings some real sense to these cases. I thought he was clever when I was taking ConLaw in college, and it seems that this is still true today.

On topic, I guess we won't know how it will go for a while. I'm going to check this stuff out and look at my own sites that cover this sort of stuff later.

But... for those who may be concerned, i've seen transcripts or listened to Audio recordings of these arguments being presented, and this sounds pretty normal. The justices tend to pick at the arguments of both sides quite alot, so you guys should not freak out too much seeing these guys smack around the gaming argument here. That's just what these justices do.

QFT

All in all after seeing a ton of these things go by it seemed pretty normal. Which if you compare it to similar cases brought up to the majority of the justices still serving (2 new faces, but they seemed to play the game well nuff) the chops had to be taken.

Ah yes games are a medium that was not created during the writing of the first amendment so shouldn't necessarily be given First amendment protection. No other medium exists today that didn't then well apart from FILMS.

The Founding Fathers also never forsaw movies. Or Television. Yet those are protected. So trying to use this argument against games is stupid.

And about the "why shouldn't they pass a law to keep violence out of the hands of 10 year olds?", well the industry already does that. Better then any other industry ever.

ProfessorLayton:
That's funny... today is my birthday and I got Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney as a gift. Didn't even mean for that to happen.

No way I'm reading all that now, but I bookmarked the page and I'm going to read through it later. I'm extremely nervous.

Happy birthday. Now, start playing the amazing Ace Attorney games. START PLAYING!

Personally i think the Games industry is at a natural disadvantage in this case no matter how baseline retarded the law is. The justices have no experience of the interactive medium and the tendancy is to fear the unknown and the new. If there is anywhere the 1st ammendment doesn't mean shit it's the supreme court.

JUSTICE KAGAN: You think Mortal Combat is
prohibited by this statute?

The transcription spelled "Mortal Combat" right, which means that it spelled it wrong.

It doesn't look like the argument is whether video games are obscene. In fact, it looks more like the justices against the law are trying to show that the law is redundant and that parents already fill this role.

I read the whole thing, and it was quite a good read. Obviously the justices have to question both arguments as much as possible, but it seemed to display the weakness of the opposition's argument when Roberts (and others, but him mostly) had to keep falling back on the, "Lighting schoolgirls on fire...REALLY?" argument every time he made a point.

I think the part of the case that should seem most suspect is the "Studies" funded by evangelical groups and gameaphobes. Especially since they seem to have been done by this guy;

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i find it incredibly unfair that the only game shown to the court is postal 2. most games stay away from postal 2 since the developers don't feel right about making such games.

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