U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case on Video Game Censorship

April 26, 2010

The United States Supreme Court announced today that it will hear the appeal of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down a California law that banned the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

The California law on Violent Video Games would have banned the sale or rental of “violent” video games to minors under the age of 18.  In 2009, the Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the statute by holding it violated the Free Speech provisions of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

In Video Software Dealers Association v. Schwarzenegger, the lower Court had held that the content of video games is protected speech under the First Amendment, entitled to strict scrutiny.  Absent a demonstrated compelling interest, the state cannot prohibit or regulate such speech.  The Court went on to find that the state of California had failed to demonstrate any compelling interest in regulating the speech in video games, in that there was no support in the record showing any causal link between “violent” video game content and “violent” behavior by those who play such games.


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