Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Videogames

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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Videogames

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The Supreme Court decided today that prohibiting "violent games" from being sold to minors is not constitutional.

Last November, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from both sides regarding whether California's proposed law could be legal in the United States. The bill equated certain videogames to guns or pornography, and made it a felony to sell such games to people under 18 years of age. The arguments by the Electronic Merchants Association were extremely persuasive, and there was high hope that the Supreme Justices would vote to strike down the law as a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, as you can read about here. Today, the decision of the nine Justices was announced, with the law being ruled invalid with a vote of 7-2.

Justice Scalia wrote the decision, with Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan signing on. Justice Alito felt strongly about the issue but disagreed with the court's approach so he wrote his own concurring opinion, with Chief Justice Roberts agreeing with him. The dissenters, those who voted against the decision, were Justices Thomas and Breyer.

"Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat. But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones," wrote Justice Alito in a footnote to Scalia's opinion. "Crudely violent video games, tawdry TV shows, and cheap novels and magazines are no less forms of speech than The Divine Comedy, and restrictions upon them must survive strict scrutiny."

The full decision, including the concurring and dissenting opinions, can be read here.

The ECA and the EMA were instrumental in arguing in favor of the videogame industry, and they are predictably extremely happy with the decision. "We are thrilled by today's news," said Jennifer Mercurio, who was present at the oral arguments in November. "We had hoped that we would see this decision, and it's been a long time coming. That being said, there will probably be one or two legislators who attempt to test these new parameters, and the ECA will continue to fight for the rights of entertainment consumers."

The announcement is a major victory for the videogame industry. For years, games have been treated like scapegoats for the ills of our nation's youth, and blamed for everything from school shootings to child obesity. The law proposed by California representative Leland Yee was part of that blame because it claimed that games were more harmful than books or movies and did not deserve the protection of the First Amendment.

I am glad that the highest legal authority in the United States saw through that argument and made what I feel is the right decision.

Breathe easier today, gamers. Videogames are here to stay.

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YES!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank GOD!

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If this law didn't pass I might just have killed myself, why? I plan to work in the industry, and I didn't need this law preventing me from finding a job.
I don't have much to say other than cheer or be happy really.

Awesome. Nothing else to say, really.

I am so glad for this and that the system worked they way it is supposed to for a change. Is this the end of all this nonsense that has been thrown at video games for the past twenty years?

That didn't need an argument, but at least they decided.

Ah we knew it was gonna happen, the Supreme Justices were pretty much trollin' Yee all the way through the hearing. Still good to know it's official now.

What's awesome? That's awesome.

Wonder what the vote break down was. I'll have to read about it after work.

edit: Storys updated facts achieved, above redundant etc etc.

My thoughts from another thread
Heres the decision, I suggest you read that if you really want to get a sense of how good of a result this is. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/08-1448.pdf

Scalia's majority decision declares video games as non-unique with regards to regulation (at least with the current state of scholarly debate on the subject), that is you can't single out video games without hitting cartoons or movies. That is the absolute best result we could have hoped for. A nice takeaway from Scalia

Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas-and even social messages-through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player's interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.

Also interesting is how much of a bullet we dodged with regards to the Alito concurrence. Had Chief Justice Roberts wanted to throw his weight around that concurrence or something quite similar to it could have been the majority decision and that would have been almost as bad as a loss.

Great. Interesting that nearly all of the judges voted in favor of games, makes me happy that we actually can trust some old geezers to see that history indeed repeats itself.

This is excellent news!

sneakypenguin:
Wonder what the vote break down was. I'll have to read about it after work.

7-2, Scalia writing for the majority. Alito concurring with Roberts joining. Thomas and Breyer each writing dissenting opinions.

Victory to common sense, for once...

So, does this mean that a 10-year-old can now go out and buy Duke Nukem or any other R rated game?

VICTORY! As a gamer, I feel so proud of this. It's like we're all part of a movement.

Finally the law does something right.

fierydemise:

sneakypenguin:
Wonder what the vote break down was. I'll have to read about it after work.

7-2, Scalia writing for the majority. Alito concurring with Roberts joining. Thomas and Breyer each writing dissenting opinions.

Thank God for Scalia then!

link to actual decision:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/08-1448.pdf

Also the crazy thing about this one, thomas actually disagreed with scalia...

So there is Justice and common sense at that level of government.
You know, I was actually a little worried about which way this would go.
Also, 7-2 ruling really leaves no question about the legal status of this ruling.

Jordi:
So, does this mean that a 10-year-old can now go out and buy Duke Nukem?

That 10 year old can try to buy, but the retailers would just laugh and say no. Like how it originally has been since the making of ESRB.

But yes, awesome victory is awesome.

Common sense in the justice system? Who would thought it?

Great news not just for the US but for us on lookers in the rest of the world.

fierydemise:
My thoughts from another thread
Heres the decision, I suggest you read that if you really want to get a sense of how good of a result this is. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/08-1448.pdf

Scalia's majority decision declares video games as non-unique with regards to regulation (at least with the current state of scholarly debate on the subject), that is you can't single out video games without hitting cartoons or movies. That is the absolute best result we could have hoped for. A nice takeaway from Scalia

Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas-and even social messages-through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player's interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.

Also interesting is how much of a bullet we dodged with regards to the Alito concurrence. Had Chief Justice Roberts wanted to throw his weight around that concurrence or something quite similar to it could have been the majority decision and that would have been almost as bad as a loss.

I enjoyed this part...

Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively. Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media.

Suck it Fox!

Well the Supreme court has to be compenent enough to not be a group of Jack Thompsons. As expected.

Very, very nice to hear. Good way for me to start the day.

Greg Tito:
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Videogames

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And there you go. If a Rated R movie can be sold in Wal-Mart one aisle away from VeggieTales and Dora the Explorer, then having a video game that happens to have some swearing and boobs, or God of War-style "implied sex," shouldn't be any more of an issue.

The only reason there is any confusion is because people like those behind this law are still under the impression that "video games are for kids," and so any content in a video game must therefore be directed at kids. It's just like believing that "all cartoons are for kids," so anything animated must be "directed at children."

I understand why they wanted to push this law. I honestly do. They just want to be sure these games only make it to the hands of adults, rather than kids. It's a noble goal, and one I support. The people they need to be talking to, however, are the parents. Tell the parents that not all games are for kids--in fact, fewer than ever these days--and that they need to keep an eye on what their kids watch/play. Show them how they can make decisions using the information already voluntarily provided by publishers.

This law amounted to legal "tattle-tailing." It's just, "Meeeeh. Government, can you tell them that they have to tell the parents what we want to tell the parents, so that we don't have to do it?"

Punks got justiced.

This is very good news, maybe now we can start to dismiss the claims that video games corrupt.

That said, some people still think The Catcher In The Rye corrupts, so I can't see us making much headway there.

I don't fully understand the case, could someone explain to me what's wrong here?

I mean, they're voting for a law that prohibits the sale of adult rated games to minors. Isn't that how movies work as well? What's the issue here?

Sorry I'm not American so I don't really get it, just curious lol.

Jordi:
So, does this mean that a 10-year-old can now go out and buy Duke Nukem or any other R rated game?

It will be the same as it always was. That 10 year old can go out and try and buy the game and it is entirely up to the retailer if they want to sell it to them or not. In all likelyhood if the child went to gamestop he would be denied but if he went anywhere else he would be able to buy the game.

SteelStallion:
I don't fully understand the case, could someone explain to me what's wrong here?

I mean, they're voting for a law that prohibits the sale of adult rated games to minors. Isn't that how movies work as well? What's the issue here?

Sorry I'm not American so I don't really get it, just curious lol.

Im Canadian myself but in the US it is just self regulated. The ESRB sets a rating for games and if you sell to people below that age rating then I believe you can be fined. The only difference this law would have made is who the person sending you the fine when you sell to a minor.

Just as with any other medium there is always a large chunk of retailers who will not give a shit about ratings and still sell games to minors.

It's nice to see some unquestionably good news in the world. I'm glad that whatever (and perhaps despite) political-based crackpots American states manage to get into office, the big courts still have some common sense.

Oh my science, it did happen... How... Who? How did it pass, since there are so many in the US, who would love to see them banned?

sneakypenguin:
Wonder what the vote break down was. I'll have to read about it after work.

7-2 in favor of the EMA. Which means one of the judges who was originally for the bill changed his views =D

Good, good.

Was thinking of throwing in the towel, but I'll stay working. A decision against the industry would have developers tarred with the same brush as pornographers and merchants of death.

It's heartening to see the Americans aren't just paying lip service to their constitution, any decisions made by their government involving this type of thing echo around the world, affecting nearly everyone.

Hell to the yes! So there IS some common sense in the world!

Suck it Moral Guardians!
Looks like if concerned parents want to protect their children from the "evils" of videogames they're actually gonna have to do it themselves rather than relying on the government.

Great news, I shouldn't really be surprised because the law seemed pretty obviously unconstitutional, but you never know with these things.
Still nice to breathe easy on this issue now.

Fantastic a great Step towards acceptance.

Do we know if their is an appeal planne dor do SCOTUS Rulings prevent Appeal?

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