Governor Schwarzenegger’s Video Game Act Terminated by the Ninth Circuit
By Brittany Blueitt- Edited by Anna Lamut
Video Software Dealers Assoc. v. Schwarzenegger
February 20, 2009, Case No. 07-16620
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, enjoining the enforcement of an Act that imposed a mandatory labeling requirement for all “violent” video games and prohibited the sale of such games to minors.
The Ninth Circuit held that the Act posed a presumptively invalid content-based restriction on speech in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Ninth Circuit also held that the Act’s labeling requirement constituted unconstitutionally compelled speech because it did not require disclosure of purely factual information, but required the carrying of the State’s opinion as to the nature of the video game. In so holding, the Court noted that “minors are entitled to a significant measure of First Amendment protection, and only in relatively narrow and well-defined circumstances may government bar public dissemination of protected materials to them.”
Briefs are available here.
The Wall Street Journal highlights that the state, in defending the law, argued that violence and sex should be governed by analogous prohibitions: the government can prohibit the sale of explicit pornography to minors, and so it should also be able to limit the sale of ultra-violent video games.
Ars Technica notes that should this case reach the Supreme Court, it is unlikely that the Court will discover anything that the court of appeals failed to notice.