Video Games are (still) Protected Speech

The ruling in a pivotal California case is upheld.

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit announced its ruling in Video Software Dealers Association vs. Schwarzenegger, confirming, unanimously (3-0), the decision of the lower court that two 2005 California laws were “an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech.” They were also found to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The laws, California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793, would have categorized ultra-violent video games (by a broad definition) as “harmful matter”, making their sale to minors illegal, and would have required games rated ‘M’ by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) to be placed in a separate section and require signage to explain the prohibition in stores where such games were sold.

The bills were championed by Assemblyman Leland Yee, who is a perennial windmill-tilter when it comes to this issue. Not surprisingly, he claimed that the decision was wrong and called for it to be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, despite the fact that California taxpayers have already been forced to pay $282,794 in attorney fees for the original go-round, and of 13 times this has been tried (in various US jurisdictions), the courts have never ruled that any of these bills was Constitutional.

You can download the entire ruling here [PDF, 570K, 30 pages] (courtesy of Video Game Voters Network).

Video Games 13, legislators 0. (Are we bored yet?)

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