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A California law that seeks to ban the sale to children of “violent” video games was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case was seen as balancing consumer protection and free speech rights.
Monday’s 7-2 ruling was seen as a victory for makers and sellers of video games, who have repeatedly said that the ban, which has not taken effect yet, extends too far. They claim that the existing countrywide and industry-imposed voluntary rating system is already an ample screen for parents to determine whether the content of a computer game is appropriate for their children.
The state, on the other hand, says that protecting children from graphic interactive images is its legal obligation, when the video gaming industry has failed to so
In the Supreme Court decision, Justice Antonin Scalia, representing the majority, wrote, “As a means of assisting concerned parents it (the law) is seriously overinclusive because it abridges the First Amendment rights of young people whose parents (and aunts and uncles) think violent video games are a harmless pastime.”
For the part of those who dissented, Justcie Stephen Breyer, wrote, “The First Amendment does not disable government from helping parents make such a choice here — a choice not to have their children buy extremely violent, interactive games.”
The issue is centered on how far the constitutional protections of free speech and due process can be applied to youngsters. Content-based restriction critics say that enacting such law would put the government in the censorship business.