California State Senator Leland Yee says the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the law he authored calling for a ban of sales of violent video games to minors put the interests of Corporate America first.
As a result of their decision, Wal-Mart and the video game industry will continue to make billions of dollars at the expense of our kids' mental health and the safety of our community, Yee said in a statement posted on his website. It is simply wrong that the video game industry can be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children.
In a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court overturned a California law prohibiting stores from selling violent video games to children, agreeing with the lower courts in maintaining that the law violates the First Amendment.
The court ruled that the law, which applied to any game that includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being was unconstitutional. The ruling is significant for the video game industry, which reaps considerable profits from games that are rated mature.
Even when the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority.
While proponents of the law argued that violent video games encourage similar behavior in children, there is a paucity of empirical evidence proving that point.
In contrast to hard-core pornography, Scalia said, there is no long-standing tradition in this country of specially restricting children's access to depictions of violence.
Citing examples ranging from the violence in fairy tales like Snow White and Hansel and Gretel, who kill their captor by baking her in an oven, to high school literature staples such as the Odyssey and Lord of the Flies.
California has singled out the purveyors of video games for disfavored treatment - at least when compared to booksellers, cartoonists and movie producers - and has given no persuasive reason why, Scalia said, joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in the opinion.
A state possesses legitimate power to protect children from hard... but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed, Scalia said.
The High Court will take up a similar case when it examines a ruling that discared the Federal Communications Commission's rules barring television networks from showing explicit language or images during hours when children might be watching.