IPcentral Weblog
  The DACA Blog

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Will VSDA v. Schwarzenegger Be First Major Supreme Court Video Game Case?
(previous | next)

ArnoldThis week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a California video game statute as unconstitutional, holding that it violated both the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution. The California law, which passed in October 2005 (A.B.1179), would have blocked the sale of "violent" video games to those under 18 and required labels on all games. Offending retailers could have been fined for failure to comply with the law. It was immediately challenged by the Video Software Dealers Association and the Entertainment Software Association and, in August of 2007, a district court decision in the case of Video Software Dealers Association v. Schwarzenegger [decision here] enforced a permanent injunction against the law. The Ninth Circuit heard the state's challenge to the injunction last year and handed down it's decision this week [decision here] holding the statute unconstitutional. The key passage:

We hold that the Act, as a presumptively invalid content based restriction on speech, is subject to strict scrutiny and not the "variable obscenity" standard from Ginsberg v. New York , 390 U.S. 629 (1968). Applying strict scrutiny, we hold that the Act violates rights protected by the First Amendment because the State has not demonstrated a compelling interest, has not tailored the restriction to its alleged compelling interest, and there exist less-restrictive means that would further the State's expressed interests. Additionally, we hold that the Act's labeling requirement is unconstitutionally compelled speech under the First Amendment because it does not require the disclosure of purely factual information; but compels the carrying of the State's controversial opinion. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to Plaintiffs and its denial of the State's cross-motion. Because we affirm the district court on these grounds, we do not reach two of Plaintiffs' challenges to the Act: first, that the language of the Act is unconstitutionally vague, and, second, that the Act violates Plaintiffs' rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The law's lead sponsor, California Sen. Leland Yee, is encouraging the state to appeal the law to the Supreme Court. No word yet from Gov. Schwarzenegger whether the state will pursue that course of action. If they do, this will become the first major First Amendment case regarding video game speech that our nation's highest court will consider. The video game industry has racked up an uninterrupted string of First Amendment victories, so it would be quite shocking if the Supreme Court took up this case and then held differently. It would also be shocking in light of the many Internet-related free speech decisions that the Court has handed down since the mid-90s, which all favored greater First Amendment freedoms. But you never know.

posted by Adam Thierer @ 1:40 PM | Free Speech

Share |

Link to this Entry | Printer-Friendly

Post a Comment:

Blog Main
RSS Feed  
Recent Posts
  EFF-PFF Amicus Brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA Supreme Court Videogame Violence Case
New OECD Study Finds That Improved IPR Protections Benefit Developing Countries
Hubris, Cowardice, File-sharing, and TechDirt
iPhones, DRM, and Doom-Mongers
"Rogue Archivist" Carl Malamud On How to Fix Gov2.0
Coping with Information Overload: Thoughts on Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers
How Many Times Has Michael "Dr. Doom" Copps Forecast an Internet Apocalypse?
Google / Verizon Proposal May Be Important Compromise, But Regulatory Trajectory Concerns Many
Two Schools of Internet Pessimism
GAO: Wireless Prices Plummeting; Public Knowledge: We Must Regulate!
Archives by Month
  September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
  - (see all)
Archives by Topic
  - A La Carte
- Add category
- Advertising & Marketing
- Antitrust & Competition Policy
- Appleplectics
- Books & Book Reviews
- Broadband
- Cable
- Campaign Finance Law
- Capitalism
- Capitol Hill
- China
- Commons
- Communications
- Copyright
- Cutting the Video Cord
- Cyber-Security
- Digital Americas
- Digital Europe
- Digital Europe 2006
- Digital TV
- E-commerce
- e-Government & Transparency
- Economics
- Education
- Electricity
- Energy
- Events
- Exaflood
- Free Speech
- Gambling
- General
- Generic Rant
- Global Innovation
- Googlephobia
- Googlephobia
- Human Capital
- Innovation
- Intermediary Deputization & Section 230
- Internet
- Internet Governance
- Internet TV
- Interoperability
- IP
- Local Franchising
- Mass Media
- Media Regulation
- Monetary Policy
- Municipal Ownership
- Net Neutrality
- Neutrality
- Non-PFF Podcasts
- Ongoing Series
- Online Safety & Parental Controls
- Open Source
- PFF Podcasts
- Philosophy / Cyber-Libertarianism
- Privacy
- Privacy Solutions
- Regulation
- Search
- Security
- Software
- Space
- Spectrum
- Sports
- State Policy
- Supreme Court
- Taxes
- The FCC
- The FTC
- The News Frontier
- Think Tanks
- Trade
- Trademark
- Universal Service
- Video Games & Virtual Worlds
- VoIP
- What We're Reading
- Wireless
- Wireline
Archives by Author
PFF Blogosphere Archives
We welcome comments by email - look for a link to the author's email address in the byline of each post. Please let us know if we may publish your remarks.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation