U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Video Games Qualify For Protection Under The First Amendment
June 27, 2011
We've been waiting for a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in the case against video games since November of last year, but this morning the court came through with an affirmation in favor of everyone's favorite digital interactive entertainment. Video games qualify for protection under the first amendment, so no more chilling "selling video games to minors is illegal" attempts at lawmaking by the self-appointed moral guardians for this country! GamePolitics sums it up like this:
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 is 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.
There's more coverage and analysis at places like Gamasutra, Game Informer, Kotaku, and Joystiq. I'm overjoyed that the court ruled this way, particularly since I was extremely pessimistic over the impending verdict back in November. Nosy moral guardians have a way of pestering people over popular forms of entertainment, and I'm especially tired of lobbying firms and vote-hungry politicians trying to clamp down on the things I enjoy at someone else's behest. While laws preventing the sale of so-called objectionable games do not directly impact me, my fear was that developers would begin to self-censor themselves over risk of running into the law which would have an effect on the kinds of games that I enjoy. There are some games that I consider tasteless and would lose no sleep over if they vanished tomorrow, but they have a right to exist in the marketplace and be enjoyed by those who like them. I'd imagine that the Helen Lovejoys of the nation aren't finished being nosy about what other people buy, but after all of this legal wrangling, I think they've earned some time off. Perhaps they can use their new free time to take up video games.