2011 June 27

Supreme Court Invalidates California Video Games Censorship Law

 

In Brown v. Video Merchants Association, the Supreme Court on this day struck down a 2005 California law that outlawed the sale of violent video games to children without parental consent. The Court held that video games, like books, movies and other forms of expression, communicate ideas and are therefore protected by the First Amendment. It also held that there is insufficient evidence that exposure to violent video games causes violent behavior.

The Court: “Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And ‘the basic principles of freedom of speech … do not vary’ with a new and different communication medium. . . The most basic principle—that government lacks the power to restrict expression because of its message, ideas, subject matter, or content . . . is subject to a few limited exceptions for historically unprotected speech, such as obscenity, incitement, and fighting words. But a legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech simply by weighing the value of a particular category.”

Study the debate over violent video games: http://videogames.procon.org/

Learn more at the National Coalition Against Censorship here.

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