California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state attorney general Jerry Brown have announced they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision that overturned a California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The law was passed in 2005 over concerns that violent content in video games could lead to increased violence among game-playing youth, incite aggressive behavior, or do long-term psychological harm. The law received strong support Governor Schwarzenegger, but was quickly challenged by trade groups like the Entertainment Software Association, and a preliminary injunction was issued preventing the law from going into effect. In August 2007, Federal Judge Roland Whyte issued a permanent ban on the law, who found there was not sufficient evidence that violent content in games led to real-world violence, and thus the state did not have a compelling need to restrict the free speech of game developers and publishers.
The state appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit; the appeals court upheld the ban in February, and now California is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in.
“By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law would allow parents to make better informed decisions for their kids,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “I will continue to vigorously defend this law and protect the well-being of California’s kids.”
Similar laws enacted by other states have been consistently struck down by the courts; however, California’s case is the first time such a statute has been taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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