Monday, June 27, 2011

Violent videos is OK for minors

1st Amendment rights would be violated. Well, what about pornography? Maybe you don't need to be 21 anymore.

"Supreme Court lifts limits on sale of violent video games to minors"

California's restrictions on the sale of violent video games to minors violate the 1st Amendment, the Supreme Court says in a 7-2 ruling. Five justices rule that under no circumstances can the government be allowed to protect children by limiting violence in the media.


David G. Savage

June 27th, 2011

Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a California law that limited the sale of violent video games to minors, ruling the restriction violated the free-speech principles in the 1st Amendment.

"Like books, plays and movies, video games communicate ideas," said Justice Antonin Scalia. "The most basic principle of 1st Amendment law is that government has no power to restrict expression because of its content."

The ruling came on a 7-2 vote.

Scalia spoke for five members of the court who ruled that under no circumstances could the government be allowed to protect children by limiting violence in the media.

"There is no tradition in this country of specially restricting children's access to depictions of violence," Scalia said in the courtroom. "Certainly, the books we give children to read -- or read to them when they are younger -- have no shortage of gore. Grimm's Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed." Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined his opinion.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., applauded California's effort to deal with a "serious social problem: the effect of exceptionally violent video games on impressionable minors." But they too voted to strike down the state's law because it did not spell out clearly enough the limits that the gaming industry must follow.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer filed separate dissents. Thomas said minors had no free-speech rights. Breyer said he thought the law was constitutional as is.

The decision comes as a relief to the entertainment industry, which worried a decision upholding the California law could trigger similar measures across the country.

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