Did the High Court Make the Right Decision by Striking Down Violent Video Game Law?

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that would make it illegal to sell or rent violent video games to minors. Did it make the right decision, San Leandro?

We've all seen the commercials for the latest video game promising of bigger explosions, more innovative ways to kill enemies and deadlier weaponry for maximum carnage.

The games are readily available at places such as  and  in San Leandro, and have many local kids buzzing. They have come under the microscope of state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, who wrote a law in 2005 that would make ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

But Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, struck down the California law that banned the sale or rental of violent video games to children under the age of 18.

The court majority said the games are protected by the First Amendment right of free speech.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "Like protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages.

"That suffices to confer First Amendment protection," Scalia wrote.

The court ruled in a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Jose in 2005 by two industry groups, the Entertainment Merchants Association and the Entertainment Software Association.

The high court upheld rulings by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte of San Jose in 2007 and the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco in 2009 that struck down the law.

The 2005 law was authored by Lee, who was then an assemblyman. It was blocked from going into effect by an injunction issued by Whyte.

In this Community Forum,we'd like to know if

  • You allow your children to play violent video games
  • Did the court make the right decision?

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Marga Lacabe June 27, 2011 at 09:40 PM
Not only did the Supreme Court ruled correctly on 1st amendment grounds, but it turns out that violent video games may keep kids occupied and out of trouble and thus help reduce crime: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1804959
Angela Marrujo January 09, 2012 at 09:09 AM
As someone who works in video game retail, my job requires us to ID anyone looking to buy an M rated game who appears to be under the age of 35. You can purchase an M rated game if you're at least 17 and have a California ID or another valid source of documentation (passport, birth certificate, etc.) to prove your age. Considering my experiences thus far, and being a gamer my whole life, I think the Supreme Court ruled fairly. I think banning them outright to minors made no sense, considering a 17 year old can go see an R rated film, but that the introduction of the stipulation of allowing a 17 year old to purchase an M rated game with an ID was a good compromise.


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