Supreme Court Rules Violent Games Protected Under First Amendment

The Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot step in and police violent video games.
The Justices struck down a California law that banned the rental or sale of gory games to children.

The Supreme Court says violent video games are protected under the First Amendment.

In a 7-2 ruling the court struck down a California Law banning the sale and rental of ultra violent or sexually violent video games to anyone under 18.

Anthony Frisina said, “If somebody wants to play a game that’s violent it’s make believe it’s pretend – it’s like violent movie just because you see a violent movie it doesn’t make you a violent person.”

But supporters who pushed the California law – argue violent games can be harmful.

Dr. George Fouras with the San Francisco Medical Society said, “These video games expose kids to behavior that is not acceptable in reality.”

The decision is a big win for the multi-billion dollar video game industry. The California law would have prevented minors from buying popular shoot-‘em-up games like Grand Theft Auto 4 – which has sold more than 20 million copies.

Writing for the majority Justice Scalia pointed to fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White saying: “Certainly the books we give children to read - or read to them when they are younger - contain no shortage of gore.”

Parents groups are disappointed.

James Steyer with Common Sense Media, “You actually perform the act yourself in a video game. Very different than reading a book or watching a tv show.”

The industry already rates its games.

Joe Tartaglia, Store Manager for 8 Bit and Up, said, “For me the parent needs to be involved the parent needs to give consent.”

So for now it will still be up to store owner to create their own sales policy.

Liberal-leaning justice Stephen Breyer and conservative-leaning justice Clarence Thomas supported the ban. Breyer says the decision creates a First Amendment conflict since the justices upheld bans on selling pornography to children and Thomas wrote that "the freedom of speech" as originally understood does not include a right to speak to minors without going through their parents.

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