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."