Violent Videogame Ban Struck Down by Supreme Court


The Supreme Court today struck down a California ban on selling or renting violent video games to minors. The 7-to-2 ruling involved a law giving players the options of “killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the law violates the Constitution’s First Amendment. He called the statute the “latest episode in a long series of failed attempts to censor violent entertainment for minors.” In a footnote, Scalia noted that the video game Mortal Kombat is no less a form of speech than is Dante’s “The Divine Comedy.”

In a dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said that, ” ‘The freedom of speech,’ as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors without going through the minors' parents or guardians.” In s separate dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said, “the First Amendment does not disable government from helping parents make such a choice here—a choice not to have their children buy extremely violent, interactive video games, which they more than reasonably fear pose only the risk of harm to those children.”

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