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Calif. officials ask Supreme Court to revive violent video-game law

By The Associated Press
05.21.09

SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday to reinstate a state law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

In February, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the law as a free-speech violation that could limit minors' access to other material under the guise of protecting children. The 9th Circuit said in Video Software Dealers Association v. Schwarzenegger that there are less restrictive ways, such as parental control, to prevent children from accessing violent video games.

The appeals court also dismissed as unpersuasive the scientific studies linking violent video games to aggressive and anti-social behavior.

The state Legislature passed the law in 2005, but it never took effect because the video-game industry sued soon after Schwarzenegger signed the measure that would have barred sales and rentals to anyone under the age of 18.

The governor and attorney general argued yesterday that the same legal justifications for banning minors from accessing pornography can be applied to violent video games.

"I signed this important measure to ensure parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children," Schwarzenegger said. "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."

Votes to hear the case from at least four of the nine justices are required for the Supreme Court to consider the issue.

The Entertainment Software Association, which represents U.S. computer and video-game publishers, called California's petition "a complete waste of the state's time and resources."

The association's Chief Executive Michael D. Gallagher said video games are labeled with a rating system that lets parents decide what games their children can purchase and play.

"Gov. Schwarzenegger has recklessly decided to pursue wasteful, misguided and pointless litigation," Gallagher said. "We are confident that this appeal will meet the same fate as the state's previous failed efforts to regulate what courts around the country have uniformly held to be expression that is fully protected by the First Amendment."


Previous
9th Circuit strikes down Calif. video-game law
Panel says there less-restrictive ways to protect children from 'unquestionably violent' video games. 02.23.09

Related

Utah governor vetoes bill restricting video-game advertising

Jon Huntsman said measure would have led to stores deciding not to label any video games rather than risk running up against the law. 03.26.09

Video-game group tries to zap Chicago transit-agency rule

Lawsuit contends policy barring ads on trains and buses for 'mature' and 'adults only' games violates industry's free-speech rights. 07.25.09

Federal judge halts Chicago Transit ban on ads for violent video games
Entertainment Software Association chief praises injunction as 'a win for Chicago's citizens, the video game industry and, above all, the First Amendment.' 01.11.10

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