In 2005, the state of California introduced a $1,000 fine for any merchant who sold a mature or higher rated video game to a minor. Since then, the Entertainment Merchants Association and others have proved to lower courts that the law is unconstitutional.
Now, the Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to review the case of Schwarzenegger, Gov. of CA V. Entertainment Merchants, Et Al., guaranteeing a federal decision on whether regulating the sale of video games based on their content is constitutionally sound.
We have a lot of laws, for a lot of things, that regulate whether or not you can sell a thing to a minor. Alcohol, cigarettes, cars, and, while I don’t want to draw any concrete parallels, pornography, tickets to certain movies, and video games. Furthermore, there are certain rights given to citizens of the US that minors do not have. The right to vote, for example.
“Courts throughout the country have ruled consistently that content-based regulation of computer and video games is unconstitutional. Research shows that the public agrees, video games should be provided the same protections as books, movies and music,” Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA, wrote in a prepared statement to Kotaku.
“As the Court recognized last week in the US v. Stevens case, the First Amendment protects all speech other than just a few ‘historic and traditional categories’ that are ‘well-defined and narrowly limited.’ We are hopeful that the Court will reject California’s invitation to break from these settled principles by treating depictions of violence, especially those in creative works, as unprotected by the First Amendment.”
If the court had not decided to hear the case, the previous court’s ruling that the penalty was unconstitutional would stand. Other laws like California’s have been ruled unconstitutional in other states. The Supreme Court’s decision, whatever it is, will become the countrywide standard.
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