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Supreme Court Takes California Video Game Case- Again, About Freedom of Expression

WASHINGTON – from – A California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors that lower courts deemed too broad and in violation of the First Amendment will get another look by the Supreme Court, the justices announced Monday.

The Court’s decision could ultimately lead to a ruling reinstating the law, passed in 2005, that prohibited the sale or rental of certain violent video games to children younger than 18 years old.

So far, video game makers have successfully challenged the law saying it violates their freedom of expression.

Last year, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals expressed sympathy with California lawmakers who were attempting to protect children from the potentially harmful effects of exposure to violent video games, but nonetheless ruled against the law.

A unanimous three judge panel concluded the law was too broad and that the state didn’t sufficiently link the video games to a concern that minors exposed to the games will be more likely to commit violent crimes. It further held that even if the state were able to make such a link, there are other measures the state could have taken that wouldn’t threaten First Amendment protections.

In its petition to the Court, California argues the justices should expand a late 1960’s ruling that prohibits of sale of sexual material to minors to include violent video games. It also says the current industry imposed labeling standards for video games is ineffective.

A final ruling by the Court, which will not come until next year, will likely impact the handful of other states that have similar laws.


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