News

Violent video games: Yee may craft 'narrower' bill

By Julia Cheever

Bay City News Service

The U.S. Supreme Court by a 7-2 vote Monday struck down a California law that banned the sale or rental of violent video games to children under the age of 18.

The law was drafted by state Sen. Leland Yee, whose district includes Portola Valley and Woodside.

The court majority said the games are protected by the First Amendment right of free speech.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "Like protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas -- and even social messages.

"That suffices to confer First Amendment protection," Scalia wrote.

The case concerned a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Jose in 2005 by two industry groups, the Entertainment Merchants Association and the Entertainment Software Association.

The 2005 law, written by state Sen. Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo counties, would have fined stores $1,000 for selling violent video games to minors. It was blocked from going into effect by an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte of San Jose.

Sen. Yee said Monday, "Unfortunately, the majority of the Supreme Court once again put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children."

He said he "absolutely" will consider proposing a narrower law that might pass muster with the high court.

"We're poring through the opinions to see where we can create a pathway for a successful bill that could withstand a challenge," he said.

But Michael Gallagher, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Entertainment Software Association, said, "This is a historic and complete win for the First Amendment and the creative freedom of artists and storytellers everywhere."

Mr. Gallagher said, "The court declared forcefully that content-based restrictions on games are unconstitutional; and that parents, not government bureaucrats, have the right to decide what is appropriate for their children."

Justic Scalia said in the majority opinion that the California law didn't fit into limited restrictions on free speech historically allowed by the courts to restrict obscenity and incitement to violence.

The court upheld similar rulings in which the ban was found unconstitutional by Whyte in 2007 and by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in 2009.

Two high court justices -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito -- agreed in a concurring opinion that the law should be struck down, but said a narrower law might be found constitutional. Two other justices, Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas, dissented from the majority.

Sen. Yee said he will be studying the concurring and dissenting opinions to try to develop a revised bill.

"The evidence is absolutely crystal clear that there are harmful effects on our children," he asserted.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Arch Conservative
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Isn't there a budget that is supposed to be in place? Yee should concentrate on that.
And the good thing is that Yee is not being paid at the moment.
Thank you John Chiang!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Maybe if Yee started to do something humane, such as work on banning shark fin soup, I could have more respect for him. Hey, it's real life violence - doesn't that count for anything? But that would cost him too many votes from his supporters. So instead, he goes for something like this.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Local picks on 2015 Michelin Bib Gourmand list
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 2,956 views

WUE makes out-of-state tuition more affordable
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 2 comments | 2,772 views

Ode to Brussels Sprout
By Laura Stec | 14 comments | 2,353 views

Charter School Proposal Steeped In Unintended Consequences
By Erin Glanville | 38 comments | 1,617 views

Measure M-- I am not drinking Greenheartís expensive potion
By Martin Lamarque | 8 comments | 348 views