Washington

Court Hands Broadcasters a Shield

Rules that a California ban on selling or renting violent video games to minors is a violation of the First Amendment 7/11/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

RELATED: Broadcasting's Future Shock

Legislators who have pushed for regulating
screen violence, led by Sen. Jay Rockefeller
(D-W. Va.), were dealt a very real blow by
the Supreme Court last week. The court
ruled in Brown (formerly Schwarzenegger) v.
Entertainment Merchants Association
that
a California ban on selling or renting violent
video games to minors is a violation of the
First Amendment.

Here are some quotes from the majority
opinion that broadcasters can cite the next
time the TV violence issue is raised:

“Under our Constitution, ‘esthetic and
moral judgments about art and literature…are
for the individual to make, not for the Government
to decree, even with the mandate or
approval of a majority.’” (The quote language
is from the Playboy case, in which the court
found that available blocking technology rendered
a content ban overly restrictive.)

“California has [wisely] declined to restrict
Saturday morning cartoons, the sale of
games rated for young children or the distribution
of pictures of guns.”

“[A]s a means of assisting concerned
parents [the law] is seriously overinclusive
because it abridges the First Amendment
rights of young people whose parents [and
aunts and uncles] think violent video games
are a harmless pastime.”

 

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