Supreme Court overturns California ban on violent video game sales or rental to kids

by on June 27, 2011 · 31 comments

in California, Popular

Associated Press / June 27, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday refused to let California clamp down on the sale or rental of violent video games to children, saying governments lack authority to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed” despite complaints that the popular and fast-changing technology allows the young to simulate acts of brutality.

On a 7-2 vote, the high court upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out California’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento had ruled that the law violated minors’ rights under the First Amendment, and the high court agreed.

“No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion. “But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”

For the remainder of this article, please to the Washington Post.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

mr.rick June 27, 2011 at 10:48 am

After the court took such a protective stand to shelter high school kids from ” Bong Hits for Jesus” I came away with the impression the Supremes were really in the business of looking out for our young. But, it appears fhey are way more interested in protecting corporate profits. If the former case would have been a corporation standing to lose some money, I’m sure the Bong Hits case would have been decided the other way. Now I’m all for free speech, I just have a hard time with hypocrites.


mr.rick June 27, 2011 at 10:50 am

Woops! 9th circuit instead of Supremes.


Andy Cohen June 27, 2011 at 11:07 am

So here’s my question: Since the state (or government in general, I would interpret this to mean) cannot ban the sale of goods they deem dangerous to minors, does that mean that the ban on alcohol and tobacco sales to minors is similarly unconstitutional? One can argue (and I assume the state legislators did) that the effect of these games has as profound an effect on a child’s mental health as cigarettes and alcohol does on his physical health; through these games violence becomes an acceptable norm.

Perhaps someone should challenge the constitutionality of cigarette and alcohol laws too?


Bonnie Russell June 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm

But today’s ruling concerning the upcoming ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a ban on commercially violent video games shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Just a few years earlier in a case of Actual violence, like murder, (Castle Rock vs. Gonzales), the Supreme Court ruled police officers aren’t mandated to enforce restraining orders after a father picked up his three little girls in violation of a family law, Civil restraining order.

The mother had repeatedly called the police for help. Namely, restraining order enforcement. (Police response was they were too busy out fighting crime.)

Many calls and hours later, the father drove to Castle Rock Police Department and committed suicide by cop, inside. When the police went to the parking lot and discovered Mr. Gonzales’ truck, they also discovered his three little girls, shot-gunned to death, inside.

Mrs. Gonzales sued and the case found it’s way to the U.S. Supreme Court

which ruled police officers didn’t have to enforce a Civil restraining orders from a Family Court.

(Just as the U.S. Supreme Court most recently paved the way for jail and Debtors Prisons for contempt charges in another Civil case from Family Court.)

However as violent video games are a commercial venture, it can be expected the U.S. Supreme Court will again back industry, as the Court’s lack of regard for victims of actual violence, remains securely in place.

The good news? Family court judges could end family murders by using GPS with Victim Notification so a staffer from the monitoring agency could notify the potential victim at work or home in enough time to vacate the area should the restrained person begin to violate the court-ordered distance to stay-away.

Sadly, since reporters mostly don’t venture into Family Court unless it’s in an after-the-fact murder, most don’t know a remedy is available.

However, any of the below devices here,
could be adapted for family court.

Bo Filner is for this, by the way.

Pass it on. :)


Abby June 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

What does any of that have to do with video games?


Bonnie Russell June 27, 2011 at 5:51 pm


Are you serious? If you are – I suggest you go back and read everything. It’s evidence the bottom line is the Supreme Court doesn’t care about kids….so certainly today’s ruling should come as no surprise to Anyone who has been paying attention.


Grant June 28, 2011 at 7:39 am

I think what Abby was trying to get at was that you are making a correlation between video game violence and actual violence…which is still a stretch.

What you posted was taking apples and oranges and saying our supreme court doesn’t care about kids.

This issue is more about 1st amendment rights than anything…don’t turn it into an issue so that you can push Bob Filner on people. I’m assuming that is who “Bo Filner” is…


Bonnie Russell June 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

Grant – it would be better if you didn’t think you didn’t speak for anyone but yourself, and particularly not on this subject since you obviously aren’t capable of connecting the dots between video games and real violence. However, as I correctly pointed out in Castle Rock vs. Gonzales – it’s not as if the Supreme Court cares much about half the population. My comment wasn’t a push for Filner, it was reporting exactly the response. I’m sorry you missed it, but that’s another reason it’s best you speak only for yourself.


Grant June 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

First of all, don’t try to belittle me by saying I’m “not capable of connecting the dots.” I don’t care how old you are or what rank you have in society, it makes you look lame.

Secondly, your first sentence is misworded. You should rephrase that because I can’t understand if you’re saying I shouldn’t speak for anyone else, or if you are talking mumbo jumbo.

There is NO correlation between video games and real violence, just as there is no correlation between Rock Music and Violence or Heavy Metal and Violence or even Popular Movies and Violence. Please stop promoting that vile propaganda.

I’m not speaking for Abby, I have no idea who she is or anything of the sort. What I do know, is that her asking the question “What does that have to do with video games?” is the exact same answer I’m trying to get out of you in a different context. Because in reality all you are saying is that this ruling means the supreme court doesn’t care about children. Which is a flawed argument because what they ARE saying is that they cannot control what the developers make and it is up to the PARENTS to decide what their child can play or not play.

Clearly you aren’t realizing that all this stems with the fact that your court case has NOTHING to do with video games OR first amendment rights. You are loosely stringing together an argument based off the fact that it shows that the Supreme Court doesn’t “care about kids” which is irrelevant to this case.

Don’t even think about refuting the comment about Bob Filner. You DID say, “Bo Filner is for this, by the way.” which was a completely unnecessary addition to your statement. It’s a leading comment to promote him.


Bonnie Russell June 28, 2011 at 11:08 am

Again, I’m not responsible for your reading comprehension issues, any more than I am for your apparently on-going inability to connect the dots.

Specifically: ” On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold launched an assault on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, murdering 13 and wounding 23 before turning the guns on themselves. Although nothing is for certain as to why these boys did what they did, we do know that Harris and Klebold both enjoyed playing the bloody, shoot-’em-up video game Doom, a game licensed by the U.S. military to train soldiers to effectively kill. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which tracks Internet hate groups, found in its archives a copy of Harris’ web site with a version of Doom. He had customized it so that there were two shooters, each with extra weapons and unlimited ammunition, and the other people in the game could not fight back. For a class project, Harris and Klebold made a videotape that was similar to their customized version of Doom. In the video, Harris and Klebold were dressed in trench coats, carried guns, and killed school athletes. They acted out their videotaped performance in real life less than a year later.”

and copy cats from Natural Born Killers.

Last, since you also can’t distinguish the difference between a statement, or a so-called, “Leading” comment or “Promotion” we’re done. You can stay as in the dark as you please.


Grant June 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

Ahaha you are such a joke. Let me disassemble your response.

First, look at the quote you posted: “Although nothing is for certain as to why these boys did what they did, we do know that Harris and Klebold both enjoyed playing the bloody, shoot-’em-up video game Doom, a game licensed by the U.S. military to train soldiers to effectively kill. ”

Really? maybe I should quote the relevant part of it for you. “Although nothing is for certain as to why these boys did what they did,” Did you get that? Let me get that farther down for you, “Although NOTHING IS FOR CERTAIN..”

Lets dig deeper, the government did borrow doom. They created an entirely new and different port of Doom II. Yes Doom was a popular franchise, there have been countless violent games and this is the only one that has ever come up.

Yes, Columbine happened over a decade ago. So did Granite Hills and Santana High School’s shootings(which shockingly weren’t video game based). Just because they planned everything out on a fully customized version of doom, doesn’t mean that everyone playing doom is a cold blooded killer.

I find it completely inane for you to say that video games are a direct correlation to violence when other factors are present. Please don’t confuse speculation of one’s actions with the truth of one actions. Maybe if the kids parents had actually, oh I don’t know…been active in their children’s lives. And oh wait, maybe if the school had hunkered down a bit on the bullying that occurred, NONE of that would have happened.

If you actually read the paper and comments(which you probably didn’t sift through) on the Student paper by Grace, it clearly is a GENERALIZATION of the topic and not only that, but it was written 8 years ago.

Stop spreading your nonsense. By the way, that comment(within its context and no other) is a very leading comment.

If I am in the Dark and you are the speaker for the Light, then keep me in the dark because clearly we are much better informed than you about games you’ve never played or things you clearly do not understand.


Bonnie Russell June 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

Well Grant, I think it’s time to adjust the tinfoil on your head.
But my guess is you couldn’t disassemble a Lego.
You’re been fun…but I deal in reality, so good-bye.
Keep writing, as people like you are wont to do….but I’m done.


Grant June 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Really? I was actually a master at building and deconstructing legos. I deal in reality too, and clearly you don’t understand the thinking that allows for more than one cause. When you stuck on the whole video games = violence thing you neglect EVERYTHING else that might factor in.

I have no tinfoil hat on, as that would be silly. You are the one that is talking about the government not caring and then giving people gps units? Isn’t that a bit freaky on its own?

Did you even look at it from an outside angle?


Abby June 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I’m going to have to agree with Grant, you sound like a total wingnut.

Yes, the Columbine shooters played Doom. But they also drank milk and had 10 fingers. Correlation does not equal causation.

Millions of people enjoy these games, and do not hurt anyone. This may come as a shock to you, but people were committing senseless murders long before video games were ever invented.

Yes, I do think kids shouldn’t play some of these games. But that is why we have a rating system in place. Most stores that sell these game already have policies stating they won’t sell them to kids. I have seen clerks try to talk parents out of buying inappropriate games for their children. It should be up to the parents, not the government.

Would you also have the government telling us what books we can buy?


Grant June 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I thought I was alone in thinking she was insane.


Bonnie Russell June 28, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Why would I care what you think of me when clearly you weren’t able to connect the dots. Besides, I’m far too busy trying to help people after they get ripped off. Google “Ron Lais, Bogus Attorney.” After he went to prison I helped some of the 19 other people who wrote me they’d been ripped off, obtain a reimbursement. I suggest you and tinfoil head get together. You both seem well suited for each other. Back to work.
Don’t look for a further response, but feel free to blather on.
I don’t care.


Grant June 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm

You keep saying you don’t care and you keep responding. Glad you are helping people who got scammed.

If you keep calling me a tinfoil headed person, you clearly aren’t understanding the point…..

Andy Cohen June 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm

It’s people like Grant who simply don’t believe in science and actual empirical research that are quite literally killing this country. People like him would rather our schools teach creationism and ignore math and real science. Because to them, facts don’t matter, only zealotry.


Grant June 28, 2011 at 9:43 pm

What the f*** are you talking about Andy?

Not only am I an advocate of evolution, I am highly anti-religious. Where the hell did that statement about science come from?

Facts DO matter, What I am arguing is that taking 2 instances of a school shooting and saying that ALL violent games cause violence is inane. Seeing as there are OTHER school shootings that didn’t have that trigger.

If you want to debate me on a better level, please feel free to do so, but I would take the time to actually think about things before jumping to an invalid conclusion that makes you look like a dumbass.


Andy Cohen June 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Not really much of a stretch at all. The assertion being made by those who want to ban the sale of these types of games to minors is that the exposure to such graphic depictions of violence–at the “hands” of the kids, no less–leads to the desensitizing of kids to extreme violence, and actually sends the message that it’s okay. Some kids have a hard time disassociating the fantasy (the game) from reality, which leads to more violent, aggressive behavior. They argue that the sale of these games to minors should be banned for the same reasons that cigarettes and alcohol is banned: It’s bad for a child’s (mental) health, and they should be protected.

The Supreme Court case cited by Bonnie Russell demonstrates a wanton disregard for the health and well being on the part of the right wing of the Supreme Court, which is the point she was trying to make, and why she says the Court overturned the video game law.


Grant June 28, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Sure, violent games will desensitize. There is ALREADY a rating system in place that is strictly followed by most every outlet that you can buy video games at. If you are not 18, you are not allowed to buy violent titles, period.

However, parents who don’t care or don’t take the time to understand the rating system, or who have zero control over their kids will sit there and continually buy the games.

It is not the government’s job to regulate something that parents should be able to regulate on their own. I’m so very sorry that I(as a strong left individual) am apparent not left enough for the concept of government running every single aspect of everything.

Please, someone tell me that this is not what this blog is supposed to be about. You can’t sit there and promote government deregulation of Marijuana and then promote the BANNING of free speech.

What if I said that I believe the government should censor the internet, and the books that we read as well? Isn’t that the same exact concept?

As a political science major, you guys are making my head want to explode, and my side of the political spectrum look like a joke.


Abby June 28, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Actually, new studies seem to be proving that people who play these games are for the most part less likely to be violent or commit crimes.

I know I’d rather kill fake zombies when I’m stressed that hurt any real living thing.


Bonnie Russell June 29, 2011 at 5:58 am

Wow. Any particular reason you didn’t identify some of those “New” studies that “seem to be proving” violent video games are “for the most part less likely to be violent or commit crimes.” Why bother posting if you aren’t going to back up what you say? Or….who financed these new studies, and if there were more than say, five people in them. Something that might give you some credibility.

Nah. Never mind. I’m out of town on business for the next couple of days and wouldn’t have time to check out what you’re going to fling up on the wall , next.


Abby June 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm
mr.rick June 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm

The court oath should be rewritten. It should hold that they never rule against corporate profits. Never hold the state accountable.And always reduce the rights of the Individual in relation to the state or the corporation.Once they complete the Prosser strangle hold on the rest of us poor fools, the utopia will be realized.


Grant June 28, 2011 at 11:01 am

Huh? Your comment makes no sense, mr. rick.

They are validating the first amendment rights of the producers of games and telling the parents and other people who are too lazy to monitor their children to DO THEIR JOB AS A PARENT.


mr.rick June 28, 2011 at 11:55 am

Grant. rest your neck, you are starting to get boring.


Grant June 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

And you aren’t? I don’t know if you work for this site or if you are just a commenter.

I don’t get why you wouldn’t address my comment fully. You can dismiss mine, but clearly it just shows your ignorance on the topic.


mr.rick June 29, 2011 at 8:24 am

Grant. My point is ; I don’t believe video games cause people to do anything they wouldn’t do on thier own. Drugs can’t cause you to steal. And music won’t cause you to murder, either.Other wise there would be alot more Doors fan’s doing time in prison. Out of the 20 or so kids I grew up with in OB, only 4 or 5 of us were ever charged with 187p.c. My point was/is that the court is in the business of protecting corporate interests over personal interests. This is why the court consistantly rules against our rights and in favor of corporate interests. If a large corporation was making money on Bong Hits for Jesus, then it would have ruled the other way. The reason they rule in favor of the police and curtail our rights is because of the oligarchy. When the fabric of society is so frayed by the inequality in wealth that the people finally snap,the few rich will already have their enforcers set up with what they need to put the uprising down with a veneer of legality. Also remember that this is all just my opinion and you should attach the proper amount of weight to what ever I say.


Grant June 29, 2011 at 11:30 am

This ruling isn’t against our rights, its actually for it. How can you not see this?

This is to protect the creative integrity of art, allowing it to cover video games as well essentially and make it just like movies or television, in which content must be monitored by parental figures.

Also, don’t use the Bong Hits 4 Jesus argument, it was overturned and you know it. In fact, it was the 9th circuit was the court that determined the overturned ruling. From the Wiki:

“Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393 (2007) was a school speech case in which the United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment does not prevent educators from suppressing student speech, at a school-supervised event, that is reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use.[1]

In 2002, high school principal Deborah Morse suspended 18-year-old Joseph Frederick after he displayed a banner reading “BONG HITS 4 JESUS” across the street from the school during the 2002 Olympic Torch Relay.[2] Frederick sued, claiming his constitutional rights to free speech were violated. His suit was dismissed by the federal district court, but on appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed, concluding that Frederick’s speech rights were violated.

Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, concluded that the school officials did not violate the First Amendment. To do so, he made three legal determinations: first, that “school speech” doctrine should apply because Frederick’s speech occurred “at a school event”; second, that the speech was “reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use”; and third, that a principal may legally restrict that speech—based on the three existing First Amendment school speech precedents, other Constitutional jurisprudence relating to schools, and a school’s “important—indeed, perhaps compelling interest” in deterring drug use by students.”

Its a specific as hell case because it deals with people at something relating to a school. But in essence, the 9th Circuit has not been hypocritical because they overturned the bong hits ruling stating that his rights WERE violated, and this judgment follows suit.



mr.rick June 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm

So it’s ok if the state protects minors form speech that promotes illegal drug use, but not to protect minors from speech promotes felony murder? I under stand you’re glad the court ruled for free speech in this case. But I would prefer the court protect all speech, even if it is not of a political nature. All I’m saying is that the preponderance of the evidence seems to suggest the court is leaning hard towards corporate america. And law enforcement seems to be getting the benefit of the doubt in every case also. My opinion.


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