Supreme Court rules that video games are Constitutionally protected expression

kuntasenseikuntasensei Posts: 3,270
edited July 2011 in Video Games
The United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the video game industry and retailers in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (formerly known as Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association). The full opinion can be found here. According to Justice Scalia, who wrote the opinion: "the act forbidding sale or rental of violent games to minors does not comport with the 1st Amendment." Alito concurred with the judgment, joined by the Chief Justice. Justices Thomas and Breyer dissent, in an opinion by Thomas - according to SCOTUSBlog.

The court had to decide if a state law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors violated the First Amendment right to free speech. The Ninth Circuit Court ruled in favor of the EMA, saying that the law violated the First Amendment.

The law was written by California State Senator (D-San Francisco) Leland Yee and signed into law by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. The law was immediately challenged by the video game industry and retail advocacy groups in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. A judge put a permanent injunction on the law, ruling that it was unconstitutional because it violated rights protected by the First Amendment.

Source: http://www.gamepolitics.com/2011/06/27/us-supreme-court-upholds-ninth-circuit-decision-brown-v-entertainment-merchants-associati

Finally, some common sense. Why Schwarzenegger and Leland Yee wasted so much taxpayer money on this is beyond me.
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Post edited by kuntasensei on
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Comments

  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 21,511
    edited June 2011
    This is a horrible descision. Does it mean that blocking a kid's ability to buy a Playboy magazine is also a violation of the first amendment? How about blocking them from going in to see or rent an R-rated movie?

    Society has placed limits of children's access to certain forms of speach for good reason, and this ruling seems to now cast doubt on all of them being able to pass constitutional muster...

    Bad descsion.
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  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 12,180
    edited June 2011
    Wow. nooshinjohn said something political I agree with. :eek:

    Since I have not read the decision there might be more to it than this thread, but, in general, it would seem laws restricting children's access to some material are appropriate. Of course, like any law, it can be abused, or too encompassing, but those are the details that need to be worked out.
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  • bobman1235bobman1235 Posts: 11,045
    edited June 2011
    Hmm, definitely interesting. I was always under the impression that free speech as it applies to minors was kind of a grey area, as sort of mentioned above.

    Plus, how do video games differ from R-Rated movies or ****? Very strange.
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  • kuntasenseikuntasensei Posts: 3,270
    edited June 2011
    This is a horrible descision. Does it mean that blocking a kid's ability to buy a Playboy magazine is also a violation of the first amendment? How about blocking them from going in to see or rent an R-rated movie?

    Society has placed limits of children's access to certain forms of speach for good reason, and this ruling seems to now cast doubt on all of them being able to pass constitutional muster...

    Bad descsion.

    You're implying that a video game is as bad as pornography? Really? Fortunately, the 92-page decision addresses the difference between this and pornography laws under the "strict scrutiny" doctrine. We agree as a society that pornography negatively affects children. There is no agreement that video games present the same danger, nor any convincing evidence that they have any negative effects on children.

    Oh, wait... That's because WE'VE ALREADY BEEN DOWN THIS ROAD. Now video games join the same club as literature, comic books, music, and television - all forms of art that, in their infancy, were attacked as being the next big danger that was going to destroy society. And yet, rock'n'roll didn't doom us all... television didn't destroy us... comic books haven't warped our youth. And the credible scientific studies show that violent video games have no more effect on kids than a Saturday morning cartoon. And yet, Looney Tunes cartoons didn't make us all hit people with giant hammers or jump off cliffs.

    You mention R-rated movies as if that's the standard. Well, it is. But what you apparently don't realize is that there is no law stating that kids can't see R-rated movies. The MPAA, a voluntary ratings organization, rates the movies and theater owners and retailers agree to abide by the ratings without government intervention. In the same way, the ESRB rates video games and retailers agree to abide by the ratings. According to the FTC's yearly secret shopper tests - wherein they send minors in to purchase R-rated movies or M-rated games - the video games rating system works better than both the movie ratings and music ratings (the explicit lyrics tag - also a voluntary system with no law behind it) in the retail chain.

    This law was a solution with no problem. Ultimately, parents are the ones to police their children, not the government, and the voluntary ratings in place now do exactly that. Today's decision is a victory for all who believe in the First Amendment, and all who have a love for video games as an emerging form of art.
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  • kuntasenseikuntasensei Posts: 3,270
    edited June 2011
    BlueFox wrote: »
    Wow. nooshinjohn said something political I agree with. :eek:

    Since I have not read the decision there might be more to it than this thread, but, in general, it would seem laws restricting children's access to some material are appropriate. Of course, like any law, it can be abused, or too encompassing, but those are the details that need to be worked out.

    But the question is: Why does there need to be a law? The ESRB places the ratings for every game on the front and back cover, and larger than the ratings for either music or movie packaging. They also list specific reasons why that rating was given, i.e. violence, language, etc. This gives PARENTS the tools they need to judge for themselves whether their child should be playing that game. What was scary about this particular law was that it sought to differentiate video games from other forms of art due to its interactive nature, despite the fact that no evidence was presented that such a distinction should be drawn. That's what I mean when I say that we've been down this road before. Similar laws were pushed for music, movies, television, etc. throughout our history, and every time they are rightfully deemed unconstitutional.

    In fact, 11 states have attempted to pass similar laws on this particular issue, and have been overturned on appeal as unconstitutional every time. The California law, however, is the only one that was carried to the SCOTUS level, which fortunately gives us a superprecedent that hopefully will prevent states from trying to enact similar punitive legislation that discriminates video games from other protected forms of expression without the benefit of the strict scrutiny test of law.
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,642
    edited June 2011
    "television didn't destroy us..."

    Really ?.....have you seen the quality of television lately ? Kardashians, Sister Wives, Jersey shores, and a plathoria of stupid reality tv shows.

    Regardless, It is up to the parents to supervise their kids, I just wish they would carry that theme with some continuity. Parents should have the say as for what video games they buy....but not for what they eat for lunch, the curriculum at school, no say for medical treatment or even if the kid wants an abortion....nope, only the powers at be can make those decisions,parents are too stupid.
    Give me a break, that this even went as high as it did. How about less laws and more common sense.
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  • kuntasenseikuntasensei Posts: 3,270
    edited June 2011
    tonyb wrote: »
    "television didn't destroy us..."

    Really ?.....have you seen the quality of television lately ? Kardashians, Sister Wives, Jersey shores, and a plathoria of stupid reality tv shows.

    Regardless, It is up to the parents to supervise their kids, I just wish they would carry that theme with some continuity. Parents should have the say as for what video games they buy....but not for what they eat for lunch, the curriculum at school, no say for medical treatment or even if the kid wants an abortion....nope, only the powers at be can make those decisions,parents are too stupid.
    Give me a break, that this even went as high as it did. How about less laws and more common sense.

    Heh... I didn't say that TV wasn't full of crap. All forms of media have their share of worthless pulp, but one man's garbage is another man's art.

    The irony here is that Arnold Schwarzenegger - a man whose career was founded on over-the-top depictions of violence and who ran his state into its largest financial crisis - was the one who spent millions in taxpayer money to try to push basically the same law that had already been defeated in multiple other states... and all while cheating on his wife. If that doesn't highlight the hypocrisy in trying to draw these distinctions between forms of art, nothing will.
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  • FaceFace Posts: 14,714
    edited June 2011
    This is a horrible descision. Does it mean that blocking a kid's ability to buy a Playboy magazine is also a violation of the first amendment? How about blocking them from going in to see or rent an R-rated movie?
    Let me get this straight, you feel that if a child saw a playboy magazine it would be damaging? :confused:

    Meanwhile, in countries like France, nudity can be seen during TV commercials and it doesn't make them a society of perverts. People are too uptight here and worry about the wrong crap most of the time.
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  • nspindelnspindel Posts: 5,346
    edited June 2011
    post #10 reported as spam
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  • nspindelnspindel Posts: 5,346
    edited June 2011
    Personally, I don't view Grand Theft Auto as art. I do not think it's inappropriate for kids. I don't let my child have the game. That's the power that as a parent is mine to exert. I don't need the government making it illegal. It's already illegal in my house.
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  • kuntasenseikuntasensei Posts: 3,270
    edited June 2011
    Yeah, but that's the important distinction. You don't view it as art... but other people do. I'm not a fan of the GTA games, but as far as their status as art, they're no less art than the movie Goodfellas or The Godfather. I certainly wouldn't want my kids to watch those movies without the proper context... but I don't deny that they are indeed art. The GTA games, believe it or not, are rife with satirical humor and at least in the case of GTA4, a pretty compelling story. Regardless, it isn't the government's place to limit the scope of art the way this legislation sought to, especially when there is already a ratings system in place that serves the same function without government intervention into private industry or the choices parents make for their kids. And let's face it... If your kid buys GTA4 and plays it in your home without you knowing, you're a bad parent... and that's the root of that kid's problem, not a game.
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  • kuntasenseikuntasensei Posts: 3,270
    edited June 2011
    Face wrote: »
    Let me get this straight, you feel that if a child saw a playboy magazine it would be damaging? :confused:

    Meanwhile, in countries like France, nudity can be seen during TV commercials and it doesn't make them a society of perverts. People are too uptight here and worry about the wrong crap most of the time.

    Yeah, I didn't want to derail the thread, but +1 to that, brother.
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  • nspindelnspindel Posts: 5,346
    edited June 2011
    Yeah, but that's the important distinction. You don't view it as art... but other people do. I'm not a fan of the GTA games, but as far as their status as art, they're no less art than the movie Goodfellas or The Godfather. I certainly wouldn't want my kids to watch those movies without the proper context... but I don't deny that they are indeed art. The GTA games, believe it or not, are rife with satirical humor and at least in the case of GTA4, a pretty compelling story. Regardless, it isn't the government's place to limit the scope of art the way this legislation sought to, especially when there is already a ratings system in place that serves the same function without government intervention into private industry or the choices parents make for their kids. And let's face it... If your kid buys GTA4 and plays it in your home without you knowing, you're a bad parent... and that's the root of that kid's problem, not a game.

    Yeah, I suppose you're right. Violence has been depicted in art for centuries.
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  • cnhcnh Posts: 13,310
    edited June 2011
    I'm with those above, +1.

    What I find interesting is that many who wish to legislate and dictate 'morality' for individuals and families, etc. are also the same people who think that our markets should have absolutely no regulation. Go figure?

    Contradictions and paradoxes, the 'human condition'--that's why we have 'mirrors' we can see ourselves in--if we 'dare' look into them! Unfortunately, few humans can stomach their own 'reflection'.

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  • FaceFace Posts: 14,714
    edited June 2011
    nspindel wrote: »
    Yeah, I suppose you're right. Violence has been depicted in art for centuries.

    More like millenniums.
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  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 12,180
    edited June 2011
    But the question is: Why does there need to be a law? The ESRB places the ratings for every game on the front and back cover, and larger than the ratings for either music or movie packaging. They also list specific reasons why that rating was given, i.e. violence, language, etc.

    Okay. You make reasonable points. I agree parents need to be responsible for their kids.

    However, in the name of the free market, I can imagine somebody selling 'M' rated games, music, movies, etc. to kids without the parents knowledge. Is a law necessary? Do kids have the same rights as adults in all situations. With the Internet making anything and everything available to anyone with a computer is it even worth the effort to try and restrict some content to age appropriate groups?

    And I agree, bans on nudity are just stupid.
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  • cfrizzcfrizz Posts: 13,420
    edited June 2011
    Basically parents have to be parents & monitor what games their kids are playing. Even if they buy the game, w/o their parents knowledge, it should be confiscated once it is brought home.

    Police your kids so that the govt doesn't have to.
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  • kuntasenseikuntasensei Posts: 3,270
    edited June 2011
    cfrizz wrote: »
    Basically parents have to be parents & monitor what games their kids are playing. Even if they buy the game, w/o their parents knowledge, it should be confiscated once it is brought home.

    Police your kids so that the govt doesn't have to.

    Amen, brother. Amen.
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  • nspindelnspindel Posts: 5,346
    edited June 2011
    Face wrote: »
    More like millenniums.

    Good point.
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  • inspiredsportsinspiredsports Posts: 5,505
    edited June 2011
    cfrizz wrote: »
    Basically parents have to be parents & monitor what games their kids are playing. Even if they buy the game, w/o their parents knowledge, it should be confiscated once it is brought home.

    Police your kids so that the govt doesn't have to.

    Ridiculous! I guess I just can't fathom what part of the Constitution you mistakenly believe indicates there should be any type of government interference whatsoever regarding video games. (or parenting for that matter)
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  • cfrizzcfrizz Posts: 13,420
    edited June 2011
    There shouldn't be. However, most parents SUCK at being parents & let their kids do all kinds of inappropriate things which has an impact later on.

    Stop being your children's friends & start being their parents. But since most people don't control their kids or have common sense on what should be allowed for children, it ends up being legislated.
    Ridiculous! I guess I just can't fathom what part of the Constitution you mistakenly believe indicates there should be any type of government interference whatsoever regarding video games. (or parenting for that matter)
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  • inspiredsportsinspiredsports Posts: 5,505
    edited June 2011
    cfrizz wrote: »
    There shouldn't be. However, most parents SUCK at being parents & let their kids do all kinds of inappropriate things which has an impact later on.

    Stop being your children's friends & start being their parents. But since most people don't control their kids or have common sense on what should be allowed for children, it ends up being legislated.

    You can't prove this statement unless you meant that the "impact later on" was the emergence of an amazing, responsible, self-sufficient adult. I've seen gradeschool age kids rise to the occasion and take care of drunken deadbeat parents. Unless it's road building and defense, the government needs to be involved in our daily lives fully 10 billion time less than the current scenario.
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  • tommyboytommyboy Posts: 1,444
    edited June 2011
    You can't prove this statement unless you meant that the "impact later on" was the emergence of an amazing, responsible, self-sufficient adult. I've seen gradeschool age kids rise to the occasion and take care of drunken deadbeat parents. Unless it's road building and defense, the government needs to be involved in our daily lives fully 10 billion time less than the current scenario.

    I don't think thats what she meant. Looks like she just meant the government would probably be better at controlling some of these kids then their own parents, but that doesn't mean she wants that. she said she agreed the government should not be involved.
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  • FaceFace Posts: 14,714
    edited June 2011
    Greg, you need a drink.
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  • txcoastal1txcoastal1 Posts: 10,628
    edited June 2011
    My son and I enjoy the upgraded technology on each new game released....trust me he has no interest in blowing up buildings, going out and kicking the $hit out of someone, and unfortunately joining the military (think it would be good for him)

    As for the waste of time and gov. money...you don't think these aspects weren't covered when they imposed ratings...waste of our money...this kinda of crap is alot worse and these antics is why people go out and do hanus goverment crimes
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  • inspiredsportsinspiredsports Posts: 5,505
    edited June 2011
    Face wrote: »
    Greg, you need a drink.

    :biggrin:

    Probably true!
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  • kuntasenseikuntasensei Posts: 3,270
    edited June 2011
    Lasareath wrote: »
    Because they can hide costs and siphon monies out for personal use.

    That's true... I mean, the Governator did have a babymama to support. :tongue:
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  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 12,180
    edited June 2011
    I sill have mixed feelings on this subject. Personally, I do not have any major issue with laws restriciting children's access to some type of material. As long as those laws are not applicable to adults.

    Anyway, this is a good quote from an editorial today on the subject.

    "Leaving aside the obvious differences between "Mortal Kombat" and "Hansel and Gretel," why is there a distinction between sexual and violent obscenity? Violent images can be just as offensive as pornography, particularly in the vivid detail video games allow.

    Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissent, focuses on that absurdity. "What sense does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting the sale to that 13-year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her? What kind of First Amendment would permit the government to protect children by restricting sales of that extremely violent video game only when the woman -- bound, gagged, tortured and killed -- is also topless?"'

    http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_18365226
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  • VR3VR3 Posts: 23,488
    edited June 2011
    Even at 22 - I find super detailed, ,graphic games to be unnecessary. Thats why I like Halo. I am killing aliens - I played GTA a lot but that was like 10 years ago and it was not very life like lol
    - Not Tom

    "No, that's silly talk. Dude, you can't possibly be this audio dumb so quit the act." - Doro
  • kuntasenseikuntasensei Posts: 3,270
    edited June 2011
    BlueFox wrote: »
    I sill have mixed feelings on this subject. Personally, I do not have any major issue with laws restriciting children's access to some type of material. As long as those laws are not applicable to adults.

    Anyway, this is a good quote from an editorial today on the subject.

    "Leaving aside the obvious differences between "Mortal Kombat" and "Hansel and Gretel," why is there a distinction between sexual and violent obscenity? Violent images can be just as offensive as pornography, particularly in the vivid detail video games allow.

    Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissent, focuses on that absurdity. "What sense does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting the sale to that 13-year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her? What kind of First Amendment would permit the government to protect children by restricting sales of that extremely violent video game only when the woman -- bound, gagged, tortured and killed -- is also topless?"'

    http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_18365226

    First, the game he's referring to - Rapelay - was a minor Japanese PC title from 2006 that only got any exposure because the media found out about it... in 2009. It was only available for purchase online, not in U. S. retail stores, and was supposed to be a Japan-only title... and since its release, the EOCS (the Japanese equivalent of our ESRB) has banned the sale of it. Did Justice Breyer bother to research that enough to know that it wasn't actually supposed to be available here, and therefore wasn't really a danger to anyone's kids? Apparently not.

    But that was one of the many hypocrisies in Leland Yee's bill. The "evidence" they cited mostly consisted of "scientific" studies done by Christian organizations or at the behest of parents' groups who directed the research to fit their own agenda (which is why the evidence was discounted by every court this has been before thus far), and the horrible dangerous games cited by them were, by and large, either not available here legally anyway or not good enough games for anyone to even purchase (with the exception of something like Grand Theft Auto 4). So you have to wonder what the "imminent danger" is to our children, considering the industry has pretty solidly policed itself without the government's involvement.

    Second, we are WAY too hung up on nudity in this country, and it's a sad commentary on our society when we lump violence in with the nude human form as an evil... much less the over-the-top cartoon violence like we see in video games. How is that any different than a grindhouse movie? Or a horror flick? It isn't... and this law sought to draw a difference based on the interactive nature of games versus more passive forms of entertainment.
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