U.S. Supreme Court to hear violent video game ban

By Chris Rizo | Apr 27, 2010

Jerry Brown (D)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday granted California Attorney General Jerry Brown's petition to consider the state's law that bars the sale and rental of violent video games to children.

When the high court hears the case in its next term, which begins Oct. 4, the justices will review a 3-0 ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals court panel upheald a decision by the U.S. District Court for Northern California that invalidated the law's enforcement before the statute went into effect, amid industry objections.

The 2005 law prohibits children under 18 from purchasing or renting violent video games, and requires such video games to carry an "18" label. The law calls for civil fines of retailers of as much $1,000 per violation.

The law was successfully challenged by the Video Software Dealers Association, now part of the Entertainment Merchants Association.

"It is time to allow California's common-sense law to go into effect and help parents protect their children from violent video games," Brown said.

In his writ of certiorari, the attorney general argued video games containing violence should be held to the same legal obscenity standards applied by courts to sexually explicit materials made available to minors.

At the time he signed California's law, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the measure helps parents protect their children.

"By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law would allow parents to make better informed decisions for their kids," he said. "I will continue to vigorously defend this law and protect the well-being of California's kids."

The ban was sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco. In a statement, Yee said the justices will provide guidance to California and other jurisdictions on how to proceed with similar efforts to restrict violent video games.

"I am hopeful that the high court will determine our law to be constitutional, but, regardless, states are now certain to receive direction on how to proceed with this important issue," Yee said.

In addition to California's ban, federal courts have overturned similar laws Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Oklahoma.

The California case is Schwarzenegger v. Video Software Dealers Association.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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