Supreme Court ruling could affect video game industry

A closely watched U.S. Supreme Court decision on the fate of a California law that would bar minors from buying or renting “ultraviolent” video games could come as soon as today.

Both the video game industry and free-speech groups oppose the ban, which was authored by state Sen. Leland Yee and signed into law in 2005 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was later struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, was hopeful about the outcome Sunday, saying the law could become a national model.

“My sense of it is that the Supreme Court will in fact either rule in our favor or at least provide a direction as to what it would take to have a legally defensible video game bill, so that not only my state but other states … will have a pathway as to how to protect our children,” he said.

Yee, a child psychologist, said studies show a link between playing violent video games and an increase in aggressive or antisocial behavior.

In one of the games that could be covered by the law, “Postal 2,” players can shoot both police officers and unarmed people, decapitate schoolgirls with a shovel and pour gasoline on injured victims and then urinate on them, according to proponents of the ban.

Attorneys for the industry have argued that video games are no different from art, literature or movies that depict violence, and they are protected by the First Amendment.

The California law “is the latest in a long history of overreactions to new expressive media,” industry lawyers wrote in court filings, arguing that “there is no evidence of any real problem in need of government intervention.”
But Yee said that unlike books or movies, video games are interactive and thus different.

“So there is then this brain connection that is developed, that you caused this sort of behavior,” he said.

The case appears to have split the high court along unusual philosophical lines.

In arguments before the court in November, Yee spokesman Adam Keigwin said, conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and liberal San Franciscan Justice Stephen Breyer “seemed very much in our corner,” while conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “seemed very much against us.”

States, and Puerto Rico, have differed on the subject. Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia submitted briefs in favor of the law, while Georgia, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Washington opposed it.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

Arnold SchwarzeneggerBay Area Newsfirst amendmentLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read