Supreme Court Takes Up Violent Video Game Restrictions


Supreme Court justices will meet Resident Evil 4 tomorrow in a divisive free-speech case that’s rated M for mature, McClatchy Newspapers report. A dozen states are urging the court to uphold a California law that bans the sale of violent video games to minors younger than 18. These states say that young people need moral and psychological protection. Eight states want California’s law buried. The interstate conflict foreshadows a provocative debate, though the judicial odds seem to favor unfettered video gaming.

“I’d be surprised if the court [] upholds the California statute,” said Georgetown law Prof. Peter Edelman. “Maybe the court won’t be unanimous, but it would be a major departure if they hold it constitutional.” If the Supreme Court sides with California’s law, the ruling could invite restrictions on books, movies and the Internet in general. The law prohibits selling minors games that depict “killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being” under certain conditions. The Entertainment Merchants Association provided the court with six games, including Tom Clancy’s Resident Evil 4, in which players try to save the president’s daughter from enemy hordes. Many must die for the player to win. Video game makers want the justices to consider the games in their entirety, so they submitted two-and-a-half hours of excerpted game play. California provided five-minute excerpts of raw gore that officials consider sufficient to demonstrate why parental control is warranted.

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