Given the recent first amendment jurisprudence, especially this doozy of a decision protecting the rights of corporations to doctors’ individual prescription history, the decision to strike down California’s violent video game legislation should come as no surprise. Yet, I’m sure that won’t soothe Sen. Yee (the author of the legislation) all that much.
The Supreme Court on Monday struck down California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors.
In a ruling closely watched by other states and the entertainment industry, the court in what amounts to a 7-2 ruling determined that California’s 2005 violent video game restrictions violated free speech rights protected by the First Amendment.
“Even where the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. (SacBee)
While I do admit to being a nerd, I’m not all that much of a gamer. Yet, I was never a huge fan of this legislation. Penalties were rather harsh, but a strong argument could be made on both sides. Sen. Yee and Gov. Brown, however, did support the measure quite strongly. Brown, as Attorney General, pressed the case to the Supreme Court. And now, well, we lost. That’s not necessarily a bad thing on this particular issue, but it raises other questions.
So what have we learned from this episode? Well, it certainly confirmed that the Supreme Court believes that the First Amendment is really First. It has become monumental in its authority. It now controls political funding to medical data, “speech” that the founders would never have envisioned at their time of the drafting of the Constitution. I do not really care to psycho-analyze Madison and Hamilton, the Court already has that covered far too well, but how are we really to address the issues of the nation if we have a view of the Constitution that is so inflexible for modern times.
Perhaps you like this decision, or perhaps you don’t. But when speech related issues come before the Legislature again, you can bet they will be chastened by this decision.