California’s Violent Video Game Legislation Falls to First Amendment Jurisprudence

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.

3 thoughts on “California’s Violent Video Game Legislation Falls to First Amendment Jurisprudence”

  1. That’s the point of a constitution, to be inflexible.  Establishing basic unassailable rights is the documents function.  And art has been classified as speech in the eyes of the law for sometime.

    Once again an issue that is best dealt with by individuals, was thought by those in the political class best handled by government.  If you support this law (or any type of thought crime/nanny state legislation) you can’t condemn conservatives for their various social interventions.

    Obscenity is generally a matter of opinion even if you can form a consensus among a majority.  You may not like it that someone get’s their jollies running over prostitutes in GTAuto, but theirs a conservative just as disgusted that the LOGO alternative lifestyle network exists at all.

    Censor the former, then the other side has all the arguments they need to censor the latter…

    Do you really want Direc TV forcing you to enter in a parental code every time you want to watch a mature show?  Of course that option is already available but I’m speaking to being forced to.

    Which brings us back to our constitution.  It’s best virtue is making it exceedingly difficult to take away the rights of an individual or group no matter how small their minority may be.

  2. would just leave this non-issue the hell alone. Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto are in no way shape or form a threat or detriment to our society.

    One of my many reasons for supporting Obama over Clinton was her irrational stance on this issue.

  3. But … as I understand it (I’ve not read the original law) the law did not ban the creation and sale of the violent video games to adults, but only to minors, correct?

    Given that, would a challenge to the sale of pornography to minors succeed?

    Were I a parent, I’d probably be less concerned about a child’s interest in sex than in graphic violence….

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