SCOTUS rules against California in landmark game case

John Moe Jun 27, 2011

The Supreme Court ruled against the state of California today in a case called Brown vs. EMA, formerly known as Schwarzenegger vs. EMA. At issue was California’s enforcement of a state law making it a crime to sell certain violent video games to minors, a crime punishable by a $1000 fine.

The court, by a vote of 7-2, rejected the law and found that it was a violation of free speech. The state had made a claim that games, by their nature, are more interactive and therefore pose more of a threat that kids will act out violently upon seeing them. The court was not persuaded.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said:

Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively. Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media. Since California has declined to restrict those other media, e.g., Saturday morning cartoons, its video-game regulation is wildly underinclusive, raising serious doubts about whether the State is pursuing the interest it invokes or is instead disfavoring a particular speaker or viewpoint.

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