Supreme Court Does Something That Makes Sense, Strikes Down Law Banning Sale Of Violent Games To Kids

So far this session, the Supreme Court has basically guaranteed a future filled with mandatory binding arbitration, said it’s completely cool for drug companies to data mine prescription records and blocked a mammoth class-action suit against Walmart. So they were due to do something that made sense.

Earlier today, the Supremes hit back-forward-forward-back-Y, slicing off the head and then bisecting the the torso of a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors.

“Like books, plays and movies, video games communicate ideas,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, who led the 7-2 pwning. “The most basic principle of 1st Amendment law is that government has no power to restrict expression because of its content.”

Dissenting were Justices Thomas and Breyer, both of whom prefer playing Wii Sports.

Supreme Court lifts limits on sale of violent video games to minors [LA Times]

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  1. SeattleSeven says:

    Fact- Between this and gay marriage. No child born after today will survive past the age of nine.

    • ModerateOne says:

      Fact- Two people getting married and kids playing violent video games is a horrible comparison.

      • stock2mal says:

        It wasn’t meant to be a comparison, it was meant to be taken in tandem. Once gay married couples start adopting and converting children to their evil, carnal lifestyle, the kids don’t stand a chance. Factor in the acid blood transfusions that gays will force their adopted children to undergo to avoid the “breeder” lifestyle and the OP’s comment is 100% accurate.

    • theduckay says:

      Fact – your statement makes no sense. What does gay marriage have to do with the survival of children? (and I hope you’re not implying that gay marriage is a negative thing).

    • MutantMonkey says:

      I applaud your sarcasm.

    • JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

      Fact: BEARS EAT BEETS.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      @SeattleSeven, so true. THE SC has obviously told us that minor’s deserve the same Rights as adults. Wow,,,what idiot logic. I am surprised that minor’s aren’t allow to drink alcohol and drive vehicles too. And while they’re at it they should have jobs.

      • partofme says:

        Wow, what idiot logic from not reading the opinion. I’m getting sick of dispelling this drivel later in the comments, so I hope people read this early on. We are normally allowed to restrict the purchase of alcohol or the driving of vehicles… they do not fall under First Amendment protection. Therefore, it is not unconstitutional for us to say that it would be smart to restrict minors from doing so while allowing adults to proceed. This is very clearly stated in the court’s opinion.

    • Anaxamenes says:

      Are you going to eat them or something?

  2. JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

    Violent video games are still a hot-button issue? Really?

    You can always do what my mom did. She forbade my brother and I from getting Mortal Kombat, but didn’t bat an eye when we saved our allowance to buy Super Street Fighter, which was as violent as MK, but didn’t have any blood.

    Or you can do what I saw several parents do in the winter of ’04 and buy a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for their grade-school-age children. Look, it’s perfectly safe: the front cover has cartoons on it!

    • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

      I grew up on video games where I slaughtered literally millions of little slime creatures and imps and inavertently assisted in the violent extinction and/or genocide of at least a dozen species and I grew up, well, mostly ok.

      • JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

        And I grew up smashing turtles out of their shells and setting pretty much everything on fire that got in my way, and I’m a productive member of society!

      • lim says:

        Hell, I routinely trounce the French and the Zulus, provided that roving barbarians don’t mess things up. They want peace; I want their land, cities, and wonders and I will SO take them by force if they don’t have the Great Wall.

      • brneyedgrl80 says:

        Ha! I agree.

        I grew up playing some fairly violent video games that my mom purchased for me, but I believe it is because she knew that I wouldn’t take it as reality or be traumatized by it.

        Each child is different and reacts differently to different stimuli. It really is up to the guardian(s) of the child to determine if it is acceptable for their child.

        And I have to say, that I thought almost the exact same thing as JennyCupcakes: “Why are we still talking about violent video games?”

    • masterage says:

      well, besides the whole “Street Fighter not ripping out people’s spines, being impaled from a multi-story drop onto spikes, and Mileena” thing and all that.

      • ubermex says:

        Yeah, but the fatalities were so hard to pull off, most of the violence was effectively child-locked :P

        • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

          Um… no… that’s just not true.

          • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

            Meh, I could barely pull off a Hadoken, let alone a Fatality – But then that’s why I ended up being an RPG guy.

      • JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

        You ever see Cammy’s outfit? That’s pretty on-par with Mileena there.

    • CrackedPepper86 says:

      And rock and roll is the devil’s music!

    • flarn2006 says:

      My dad actually first let me play violent video games like Mortal Kombat and Doom when I was 7 at the oldest. I didn’t even ask to play them; he showed me those games of his own accord. And I turned out fine.

  3. Hi_Hello says:

    why is this even an issue?? I assume that the minors have parents… is that a bad assumption??

    • dolemite says:

      Yeah, but this lawsuit originated in California. The state where the government figures they know more about parenting, budgeting, dining, religion, recycling, sex than the mere peon populace they lord over.

      • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

        +1

        In California, there are no parents, only the State. It’s like ancient Sparta, without all the cool special effects and infanticide.

      • MichiganWolverine2011 says:

        That might be an argument if there were not laws in SIX other states that are the same. This just happens to be the one that made it to the SCOTUS. How about bitching about the 44 states who still feel government belongs in my bedroom when it comes to who I marry. In fact it was Texas who had anti-sodomy laws that needed to be struck down. But this is typical of conservative ideology. Say it is government nanny state when it is stuff you do not like, but if it is stuff you like it is saving he moral fabric of America.

        • jesirose says:

          Don’t most states have anti-sodomy laws? They don’t enforce them though. If places are actually trying to enforce anti-sodomy laws, that would be a reason to remove them. If you want them removed anyway, why not help get them removed?

          As for marriage laws, every state has laws regarding marriage, since it is a contract between two people and the state recognizing it. Every state has laws limiting who a person can marry, not just 44 of them. Unless you have proof of a state which has NO laws regarding marriage? In Texas, the laws go over age, sex, and number (of marriages, meaning you may only be in one marriage at a time). Some states still do require certain blood tests to be done first, and other states have laws about familial relationships (ie, no brothers and sisters). Most states also have laws about the time period during which the contract may be enacted. (In Texas, you have to wait 72 hours, and no less than 90 days [I think on the days]). In Nevada that is obviously different.

          And yet NONE of those things have anything to do with what a person does in their bedroom, unless they are trying to hold the marriage ceremony in there.

          • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

            “Don’t most states have anti-sodomy laws? They don’t enforce them though. If places are actually trying to enforce anti-sodomy laws, that would be a reason to remove them. If you want them removed anyway, why not help get them removed?”

            The difference with Texas, however, was the fact that it specifically singled out homosexual sodomy. All the other states don’t make that distinction. Even in the military any sexual position or act other than missionary position is verboten (but not enforced).

            That said, I agree with the Supremes on overturning the Texas sodomy law because it did single out a single class of individuals. If it didn’t specify who it applied to, then yeah, there would have been no grounds to overturn it.

            Laws like that which are usually unenforceable anyway are kinda dumb. The only reason the Texas dudes got caught, if I remember correct, was because an ex called the cops on them, the cops found them in the act, and then charged them with the crime. I could be wrong about those details.

            • jesirose says:

              Did they overturn it or not? From the comments I’m confused.

              If it did/does specifically single out homosexuals then I agree, bad law. Those types of laws are stupid IMO.

              I think most modern conservatives, the ones who are leading the current conservative movement, are a mix of socially libertarian and socially conservative, and fiscally conservative. Those people (ie, tea partiers), would be likely to agree that any law governing what people do in their own home (sex in the bedroom), is a bad law. However, is removing an unenforced law worth the effort? For some people it might not be. In the case described where it was being enforced, yeah, it needs to be removed.

              • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

                They did overturn it, sorry about the confusion.

                And I consider myself fiscally conservative and fairly socially conservative as well. But the libertarian side of me says that it’s not the government’s roll to get so involved in social engineering.

                So while I may not like abortion, for example, I don’t think it’s the role of the government to either ban or support it. I’d rather see individuals and/or communities come to some appropriate decision for themselves with as little impact on the rest of society as possible.

                I don’t like proselytizing at all, whether it’s bible-thumping Christian fundamentalist theo-fascists or overly politically correct eco-athiest liberals doing it. Let people do their thing, hold their own ideals, and as long as they keep them to themselves and have little to no impact on me or the rest of society, knock yourself out.

                This is why I can be both simultanously homophobic AND support homosexuals be afforded equal rights in our society.

                • jesirose says:

                  Re: equal rights – Would you be able to agree that right now, homosexuals do have equal legal rights in regards to marriage? (Talking about the government part of marriage, not the religious part).

                  If you disagree, explain what the legal difference is between a straight man marrying a woman, and a gay man marrying a woman.

                  • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

                    Oh certainly a gay man can marry a straight woman, or even a lesbian – but do you expect them to be faithful to one another? I highly doubt it. Back when I did have gay friends, one of them was in the military married to a straight chick. Both of them slept around on one another on a regular basis. I didn’t like it or approve of it, but that was their business I suppose. The problem, however, was they got to move off base and get a little extra money from the government for living as a married couple in a house.

                    I’d rather the dude be allowed to marry some other dude and the chick be allowed to marry a different dude, then both would be happy and there would be no fraud or subterfuge whatsoever in their situation.

                    I have no issue with gay or lesbian peeps getting married to one another, IF their state allows it (as the Constitution allows states to decide for themseves whose marriages they will recognize). OR we can just take government out of the equation all together (a move I prefer more) that way it’s left to their religion to decide who marries who. If they are atheist(s), allow them to get a JP certificate – but like I said before, no automatic benefits, make everyone contract everything out.

                    In short, if the purpose of marriage is to express love that the participants have for one another and to form a stronger bond between them, then it would be idiotic to have a gay dude marry a lesbian or a straight chick. They could be the bestest besties in the whole wide world, but I’m sure that the dude won’t love that chick the same way he might love another dude he clicks with.

        • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

          Back when TX was trying to pass their marriage Amendment, I tried to convince state legislators to include the word “permanent” into the wording, as in:

          Marriage in Texas shall be defined as a permanent union between one man and one woman.

          Needless to say, no one went for that suggestion. Also, the way the amendment is worded, it would technically invalidate ALL marriages since the wording was something like “anything similar to a marriage will not be recognized in Texas”.

          Well, what’s more similar to a marriage than – A marriage?

          Anyway, marriage, IMHO is not a function of the state, especially since the gov’t here in the US started getting involved in the marriage game to “keep the races pure” and ensure that whites and non-whites didn’t marry. I’d rather see the whole sheebang left up to individual churches who they want to marry, and no automatic benefits to anyone.

          Everything should be done through contracts. Even if it’s something as simple as two people writing up a short document and signing it in front of a notary describing how they are dividing their property, who can visit who in the hospital, and who gets what when the other one dies.

          • jesirose says:

            I haven’t actually seen the Texas amendment, it was probably either before I lived here or before I got involved in politics.

            Personally I am libertarian (little “ell”!) when it comes to marriages and think the state shouldn’t be involved at all, as it’s a religious ritual. Anything other than the religious aspects should be contractual (such as property ownership, etc). We seem to agree in that regard.

            On the “similar” clause, I can see a lawyer arguing that a marriage is not similar to a marriage because it IS a marriage. You wouldn’t say an apple is similar to an apple. It IS an apple. An apple is similar to an orange in that they are edible round brightly colored fruits. But not the same item.

            • Maximus Pectoralis says:

              “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”.

              I would agree though. Eliminate all government invovlement with “marriage” and replace the social/economic aspects of it (taxes, medical decisions, etc) with more business-like contracts.

              Of course the liberals will never go for it because they want “marriage” to be recognized and the crazy religious-right bible thumpers will never go for it because they’re bigots and this is an easy way to attack gays.

              • jesirose says:

                You realize that almost 50% of the nation identifies as conservative? And most of the time when the issue comes up, the majority votes against “gay marriage”? What exactly makes someone “crazy religious right”? A small amount of people on the right are what someone would consider “bible-thumpers”, just as a small amount on the left are vegan hybrid loving atheist nudists. The majority of people are just right of center, and have reasons other than religious for their views on marriage.

                People can be against something and not be bigoted. Google ” SIXHERB” – you may be able to understand why simply calling someone a bigot does nothing to further your argument.

                • Maximus Pectoralis says:

                  I am not “simply calling” anyone a bigot. I am saying that using the force of law to restrict the freedom of individuals, when the freedoms they wish to exercise have no impact on you, is a form of bigotry. The overwhelming majority of arguments I’ve seen against gay marriage have been either religious or family values-oriented. Any religious argument should be moot in government, since it is not our government’s responsibility to enforce religious standards (or how about we start implementing sharia law while we’re at it?) There are much more important goals which could be met to improve family structure, like reducing divorce or the explosion of fatherless households in inner cities. But instead people choose a much smaller target. Why might that be?

                  • dolemite says:

                    Because it’s fun to discriminate! Honestly, I have no idea how this is even a debate in this day and age. If 2 people want a civil union, it is the government’s job to give them one. No one is asking to white out portions of the Bible here.

          • jesirose says:

            I thought about the “permanent” part – is there any religion besides Catholicism that doesn’t recognize divorce?

            Also, as my husband likes to jokingly point out, marriage is the only contract you’re expected to honor for life :) Every other contract has an end date.

            • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

              Ya know, for all the religions I’ve studied, I’ve never paid attention to their marriage requirements. I imagine there are some others. But my point for trying to get “permanent” inserted into the amendment was to point out that Divorce is far more rampant and has a greater negative impact on the “institution” of marriage then allowing some 1-3% of the population to marry each other.

              So I wanted the bible-thumpers to put their money where their mouth was, if marriage is a holy sacrament and above that an instutution ordained by god himself, then there is NO excuse to get a divorce whatsoever – with the exception of abuse, abandonment, and infidelity (as laid out in the Bible if they are so keen on using the bible to justify their social policies).

        • jesirose says:

          PS: Most conservatives who are social conservatives, would probably lean more towards agreeing with a ban on selling violent games to minors. Most of California is socially liberal. So your point that Californians would be arguing for the moral fiber of America when there’s so few conservatives there, makes no sense. The law originated out of a liberal state, not a conservative one.

          Also, out of the two who were FOR the ban, one was conservative and one was liberal (based on prior voting records).

      • jesirose says:

        Don’t forget home ownership and construction (you practically can’t build new homes in most of CA), that’s why housing is so expensive.

    • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

      Based on the number of 10 year old, misogynist racists I hear on Xbox, no, minors do not have parents.

    • partofme says:

      Here’s the funny thing: Thomas’ dissent not only said that parents fix the problem, but that society at the time of the drafting of the constitution accepted absolute control over children and could not have meant for minors to be covered by the first amendment. Quote from the majority opinion: “Justice Thomas… denies that persons under 18 have any constitutional right to speak or be spoken to without their parents’ consent.” That really does sum up Thomas’ opinion better than any single sentence from the opinion itself.

      So apparently you can go from “minors have parents” to “we can ban minors from purchasing violent video games”… in a rather awkward and scary way.

  4. dolemite says:

    Well, I’d like to applaud it, but I’m sure it was just to prevent billions in lost video game sales. It’s a smart decision in spite of themselves. Their pro-corporate stance remains intact.

    • stock2mal says:

      You beat me to it. The fact that they ruled properly on something was entirely coincidental.

    • partofme says:

      Spoken like someone who knows nothing about the court. Right in the middle of this decision and the Wal-Mart decision (which HAVE to be solely because the court is in the pocket of big business), they also handed down a very anti-business decision in a FELA case (because they’re in the pocket of big business… oh wait.. that doesn’t make sense).

      There are a lot of more important issues that determine the decision-making of the court. Do you even know what the majority group in this case looks like? Thomas, the most accused justice of being a partisan hack (in favor of conservatives and business), dissented!

      • stock2mal says:

        You mean the 5-4 decision that was made up of 5 liberals and 1 conservative? Is that FELA case you are talking about? You are going to have swing votes from time to time based on the feelings and beliefs of any justice, that’s just how things go. For some reason you think one or two cases in light of the multiple other pro-business decisions at the expense of the typical American by SCOTUS means they are “fair and balanced.” This case and the FELA case don’t validate your claim, Lil Rupert.

        • stock2mal says:

          Disregard the fact that math > me. 5 to 1 = typo.

        • partofme says:

          I lol’d. Especially because the very same conservative who joined in the majority on the FELA case (and also dissented in this case) is the guy who I mentioned is most often accused of being a partisan pro-business hack. He’s the guy who you have the best case for… yet is currently trashing your argument.

          You’re the same person who likely claims that the conservatives in the court are just anti-criminal haters while the libs are criminal loving bleeding hearts. I’m the guy saying, “Not always. There are a lot of things in play. Take, for example, confrontation clause arguments.” Summing it up with “can maybe be mangled into being interpreted as pro-business? Seems like the partisan hacks are at it again, trying to destroy America” is wrong. It’s provably wrong.

          I’m not saying that everything is always in some perfect Themian balance. I’m saying that it’s absurd to try to interpret all of these various results as, “They’re just pro-business. I expect a pro-business ruling from them.” Unfortunately, I don’t have a Rupertonian analog to compare you to… except perhaps Rupert, himself, because you’re only looking at the situation in terms of your political views, rather than the reality of the situation.

  5. Baphomet73 says:

    Good on the SC, but what we really need is a federal law banning anyone under 16 from using a microphone in a multiplayer game.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      I dunno… I was using the microphone when I was in H.S…under 16. before it was ‘easy’ to setup. I didn’t abuse that ability to talk.

    • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

      I will vote and support anyone who campaigns on this promise!

  6. punkrawka says:

    It’s funny that the editorial bent in this post acts like the WalMart dismissal is crazy and calls it a “mammoth” suit in the same breath. It was the “mammoth” nature of the suit that got it dismissed. The knee-jerk reaction is “WalMart bad, WalMart should lose!” but that doesn’t mean that the case against them was a good case, or that allowing so many disparate plaintiffs with unique stories to go after large punitive damages is a good idea.

    • Tim says:

      The decision wasn’t about whether it was a good case or not. It wasn’t even about the merits of the case at all. It was about whether such a large group could even bring the case as a group.

      Personally, I don’t know if the case had merit. But it should be left up to the actual trial court to decide, not an appeals court that didn’t even have a chance to hear arguments about the case itself.

      • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

        Exactly. If Walmart is so big that a Class made up of roughly half of their employees is so big that it can’t be tried in the US, then it is basically above the law.

        • rmorin says:

          Did you read beyond the headline about the Wal-Mart case? The reason it could not be certified as class action is because it is ridiculous to assume that every women was adversely affected. Wal-Mart had an official stance against discrimination, so it is hard to prove their is systemic discrimination going on in such a large company barring some pretty damning evidence.

          Let’s say there are 100 (puled that out of thin air) district managers for Wal-Mart, and 12 are jerks that discriminate, women working at the other 88 districts can’t say they were discriminated against systemically when the closest person that was actually discriminated against was ten states away. The women at the 12 other districts certainly have cause to sue, but all women can not. That is why it failed to gain class action.

          • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

            The point is, though, that say Wal Mart did have a discriminatory policy against a large portion of its workforce. Would that class be too big as well?

            • rmorin says:

              No it would not. If they find a memo from the CEO stating “make sure throughout the ranks, men get promotions over women” then yes it can be a class action lawsuit. Like any class action lawsuit the class must have been adversely affected. All women were not adversely affected, and Wal-Mart is such a large employer that proving every women was affected (again without some sort of smoking gun) would be impossible.

            • Gaz says:

              No, it wouldn’t be too large a class. My IANAL understanding is that if there were a common cause that could be pointed to, such as a national policy, then they could have been certified as a class.

              This doesn’t have anything to do with Wal-Mart being “above the law”, it has to do with whether 1.5 million women suffered similar enough discrimination for similar enough reasons that a solution from the court would have suitably addressed all their disparate concerns.

              The SCOTUS did not in any way address the question of whether discrimination occurred, only whether the 1.5 million women the lawyers claimed to represent could be counted as a class.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        The hair splitting was even more technical than that – the question that was asked was more like “Can a class form of people suing for discrimination?” Its a difficult question to boil down to a simple form. What the Supreme Court ruled is that “discrimination” is not enough to join people across the country since the source of that discrimination was not a national-policy, but rather allowed local stores to set their policies, which might or might not be discriminatory.

      • evnmorlo says:

        Judges determine whether every case is legitimate before any trial occurs.

    • It's not fun. It's not funny. says:

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      • partofme says:

        The Ginsberg dissent agreed that they met the first “commonality” requirement (which can be read so broadly as to become meaningless, as the opinion of the court points out) but could not pass the second test of whether sufficient “dissimilarities” exist. Then, she only complained that maybe they could try again through one of the other second tests. If you can make an argument that can add to this distinction, please do. Otherwise, please don’t spam the comments.

  7. sonneillon says:

    It looks like the law banning violent video games…

    *puts on glasses*

    has been shot down.

  8. jesirose says:

    I have no problem with this – it should be up to the parents, and in most cases it is now. Most parents who would let their kid play the game regardless of the rating will go ahead and BUY the game for the kid, no matter what the rating. Very few will go “oh, the government won’t let him buy it himself, so I shouldn’t buy it”. So the law wasn’t doing much anyway.

    The rating should still be on there with the description of what’s in the game, but parents should be supervising what their kids are doing (and talking to said kid’s friend’s parents so they know if it’s okay for your kid to play an M game at their house). If a kid can’t be taught to play only age appropriate games, they don’t get to play any games, that’d be our house rule.

    • Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

      Have you ever actually had the conversation where you tell another parent, “I don’t care what you let your kid do, don’t let my kid do that if he’s at your house.”? It SEEMS easy, but it’s harder than you think unless you don’t care about looking like a jackass- which ends up being self-defeating, in any case.

      Then there’s the fact that even if you don’t want your kid to be friends with someone (bad influence or whatever) you basically have NO CONTROL over who your kid’s friends are unless you keep him locked in the house 24/7.

      I don’t support the law and am glad it was struck down. But expecting your kid to not be exposed to rated-M games (and rated-R movies, while we’re at it) at friend’s houses is a fantasy.

  9. Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

    In before “They only decided this way to support a massive multi-million dollar industry and they don’t really care about free speech”?

  10. ModerateOne says:

    I think the law was fine. Just like firearms, liquor, and tobacco, preventing consumption by children is important.

    • jesirose says:

      A big difference is that you need a video game system plugged into an electrical outlet in order to consume a video game. Something which is in 99% of cases, provided by said child’s parents.

    • dolemite says:

      Thing is, those things have been scientifically proven to be dangerous.

      There have been NO conclusive studies showing long term psychological harm to children nor adults that play violent video games. The only studies that show anything show that short term aggression is higher after playing a game. Meaning a kid is “hyped up” afterwards. The same could be said of a kid that just got out of a karate tournament or basketball game.

      Some even suggest games lower aggression and crime, giving an outlet to violent tendencies.

      • jesirose says:

        This was way better than my point, +1 internets.

      • jesirose says:

        This was way better than my point, +1 internets.

      • partofme says:

        You should read the opinion. It’s amazing how lucidly Scalia makes this exact point. He trashes the “video games cause violence” studies saying

        And [the expert] admits that the same effects have been found when children watch cartoons starring Bugs Bunny or the Road Runner, or when they play video games like Sonic the Hedgehog that are rated “E” (appropriate for all ages), or even when they view a picture of a gun.

        Then he continues trashing them in a footnote:

        One study, for example, found that children who had just finished playing violent video games were more likely to fill in the blank letter in “explo_e” with a “d” (so that it reads “explode”) than with an “r” (“explore”). The prevention of this phenomenon, which might have been anticipated with common sense, is not a compelling state interest.

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      Why are you comparing it with drugs? A more valid comparision would be with other forms of entertainment: Wrestling, Football, Plays, Books, Movies.

      Personally, I will never let my child read the bible. Do you know how much death and gore is in that thing? I mean, they even describe a guy getting tortured FOUR DIFFERENT WAYS!

      • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

        Don’t forget the incest, the deliciously ironic God-sanctioned incest shortly after the destruction of Sodom and Gamorrah.

      • partofme says:

        Exactly this. The fourth footnote in the opinion states that playing Mortal Kombat gets the same First Amendment protection as reading The Divine Comedy.

      • ModerateOne says:

        I’m comparing it with other items that are restricted. Weed is a natural plant and cannot be proven to cause violence, yet it is restricted isn’t it. And not just from children but from everyone.

        • partofme says:

          As I point out later, there is a good parallel to obscenity here, too. We CAN ban alcohol, tobacco, or obscenity for everyone, we just feel that it’s unwise to do so. Firearms are their own category. In this case, Scalia points out that the very poor “violent video games increase violence” studies don’t establish a state interest compelling enough to overcome the strict First Amendment scrutiny. It is likely that many of the minor and felon restrictions for firearms would have sufficiently compelling state interest to overcome strict Second Amendment scrutiny.

    • MichiganWolverine2011 says:

      Except there is that ONE major difference. The pesky first amendment. I know it pisses people off, but if you parents your kids you don’t have anything to worry about.

      • ModerateOne says:

        Your off topic here. This isn’t about good parents. Good parents can teach things like being nice to others and such but you can’t teach a kid to make sure a game is not violent or stop them from buying one by accident.

        The first amendment protects free speech, the ability for the companies to make these games and the right for the stores to sell them. This law merely required kids to have parental consent to buy the game and I see nothing wrong or free speech limiting in that.

        • jesirose says:

          “you can’t teach a kid to make sure a game is not violent or stop them from buying one by accident.”

          Uhm, do you seriously believe you can’t teach a teenager not to buy a violent game? My parents taught me not to buy slutty clothes, and if I bought something “by accident” I wouldn’t be let out of the house wearing it. How is a video game any different? Parenting is not just “be nice to others”, there are endless possibilities to the values you can teach your children. Number one being “follow our rules. One rule is no video games above TEEN rating. Number two is curfew is 10pm.” ETC.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      I also agree that we must stop child tuberculosis.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Hey, I’m just happy they didn’t vote down the usually 5-4 lines.

    • SonicPhoenix says:

      I know, right? Strange that Thomas was one of the dissenters as he usually votes in lockstep with Scalia.

  12. Talisker says:

    At least now my 6-year-old will understand why I beat up hookers after our business dealings to get my money back.

  13. Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

    “The most basic principle of 1st Amendment law is that government has no power to restrict expression because of its content UNLESS YOU ARE A STUDENT AND/OR ON SCHOOL GROUNDS AND/OR CRITICIZING SCHOOL OFFICIALS.”

    FTFY

  14. Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

    Their self-imposed rating system is usually even better than the rating system used for movies, which is basically bribed to get stuff into PG-13. If parents don’t want to spend the necessary two seconds to look at the rating on a game, then they should just stop being parents.

    If they’re buying and playing this stuff without your knowledge, then you probably have bigger issues: Where are they getting the money? How are they investing hours and hours into an activity in your house that you have no knowledge of? And such…

  15. Fumanchu says:

    Well, the class-action suit only applied to companies where you have a contract with the company. ( A real contract not TOS or TOU) And that contract said you had to resolve the complaint in binding arbitration. They had to rule in favor of the company, becuase A) binding arbitration is legal and consitutional and B) Contracts are binding by law. Had they not ruled in favor of AT&T they would have legislated from the bench that contracts are no longer binding by law and binding arbitraion is no longer legal. Both things which should require their own cases.

    And while, I don’t agree that drug companies mining for prescripiton records is “free-speech”, there is no right to privacy in the consitution so unless congress wants to pass an amendment to the consitution, the supreme court had no ability to rule against the data-mining as long as the information was not being externally released.

    So the rulings the court has made aren’t as non-sensicle as the consumerist is making them out to be.

    I would love to know why Thomas and Breyer thought this law (the prohibiting of selling violent video games to minors) was constitutional.

    • MrEvil says:

      Right to privacy is implicit in the constitution. First via the fourth amendment and again implied via the ninth amendment which says:

      “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

      Just because the framers enumerated certain rights, didn’t mean there were others that the people still held. If the framers had taken the time to enumerate every single right they thought people should have it would have taken 200 years.

      • Fumanchu says:

        There is a reason why the founding fathers didn’t put in privacy though. Privacy wouldn’t be some minor right they just forgot to put in. It would be a major right and a huge deal.

        If you actually had the RIGHT to privacy, taxes would be impossible to collect. As you could argue that the information of what you buy/own and how much you make is private information and the government had no right to know how much you paid for nor what you bought.

        Also, you would have to sign waiver of rights to allow emergency care to be done on you. As the state of your health and wether or not you had all your organs or whatever would be private information.

        You could go on forever and ever why a true right to privacy would never work.

    • SabreDC says:

      According to the dissenting opinion, it would appear that they believe the state not only has the right but the responsibility to keep kids safe, i.e. child protection services, child welfare, etc.

    • rmorin says:

      “And while, I don’t agree that drug companies mining for prescripiton records is “free-speech”, there is no right to privacy in the consitution so unless congress wants to pass an amendment to the consitution, the supreme court had no ability to rule against the data-mining as long as the information was not being externally released.”

      Did anyone actually read that article? The ruling was not about data mining. The ruling was that a state can not make a law forbidding data attained from data mining in marketing. The companies still had all the information and the law was not outlawing data mining ,just Vermont was trying to say you can not use that information in marketing. They would still use and have it for internal use. That is completely a violation of free speech; telling a company they can not use information they legally attained in marketing? No question about it.

      I understand if you do not like data mining as a practice, but that supreme court decision was about MARKETING not data mining.

      • partofme says:

        No. Nobody actually reads anything. Reading is HARD! Law is HARD! Complaining is, fortunately, very easy.

  16. GenXCub says:

    So if porn communicated ideas, it would be fair game for minors. C’mon people, we have a new market to tap!

    • Voluntas filiorum neminem curant? says:

      Heh, I have yet to see a porn with a good story, but knock yourself out!

      :P

      • dolemite says:

        What about the story of the delivery guy that showed up and the girl didn’t have any money, but she was sure they could work something out?

        • GenXCub says:

          omg, you saw that one too? I was afraid if I saw Pizza Slut #47, I wouldn’t follow the plot, having not seen 1-46!

    • JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

      Porn communicated to me how I can get free pizza and plumbing work done.

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      A lot of things people would qualify as porn are available freely for minors to view as art. Of course, we can’t have children being corrupted by viewing old paintings and statues, so we should chop off their genitals and hide our shame.

    • partofme says:

      Read the opinion… the argument for that goes something like this: we could ban most porn almost altogether via obscenity, but we feel it’s unwise to do so for adults. The question then is whether violence is as generally unprotected as obscenity is. If it’s unprotected, then we can choose to just ban children from having it (but we can let adults have it if we want). If it’s protected, we can’t ban anyone from obtaining it… including children.

    • sumocat says:

      Clearly the difference is pornography is obscene while violence is not. If a couple engaged in sex acts in the middle of the street, they would be arrested because that is obscene. If that same couple shot up the street with AK-47s, they would also be arrested, but not because it was obscene.

  17. Max Headroom says:

    I’m gonna side with Justice Thomas almost, but not entirely. It should be up to the parents on what is restricted to children, not the state’s decision. If a parent(s) do their job, they have a GREAT deal of power and influence over their children to affect a ban of games, should they choose that. Wal-Mart and other companies have guidelines (restrictions) on what entertainment they will sell at all, not to just kids. California made a law that tried to police powers into what should be a parental decision, not a states decision, and ultimately put more regulation on businesses for public safety reasons.

    • smartmuffin says:

      Exactly. People don’t seem to get it, it’s not as if this decision means minors will be able to walk into a Wal-Mart and buy M rated games in California now. All the private companies that voluntarily abide by the ratings systems will still continue to do so, just like with movie theaters. All this decision means is that the state can’t *force* a company to abide by it.

    • partofme says:

      Uhhh… I don’t think you have any idea what you’re siding with. Thomas wrote that minors have no constitutional right to speak or be spoken to without their parent’s permission. He concluded that we can’t restrict state powers based on the First Amendment… because it doesn’t apply to minors!

  18. RickinStHelen says:

    So people understand part of the reasoning, the SC mentioned the tradition of exposing children to violence through culture, and cited examples. Fairey tales such as Hansel and Gretal, Snow White, and Cinderella all have violent componets, and were mentioned. Movies and television have long standing traditions of violence in them, as anyone who ever watched a looney tune knows. For those who want to cite porn as the next step, they also mention the cultural tradition of protecting children from pornography. One of the flaws in this law was it tried to impose a law on one form of entertainment that was not imposed on others (books, movies, tellevision), and left it to the retailer to determine the content’s suitability.

    I am glad this was overturned. The videogame industry has a rating system that parents can use, and that retailers can voluntarily use to set standards on what ages they will sell games to. There was no need for the State to be involved.

  19. quijote says:

    To play devil’s advocate for a moment, the law restricted the sale of violent video games to minors, not all people. We impose legal restrictions on minors because they are minors. A minor can’t buy a handgun for example. This is is about free speech, of course, and not free trade. But my point is that there can be legitimate reasons for restricting the sale of certain things to minors.

    Free speech law is valuable for reasons. Do those reasons extend to the communication of all ideas to minors? Is it necessarily better for society that no one be prevented from communicating any idea to minors? If so, laws against advertising cigarettes to children should also be struck down.

    I’m not saying this ruling was wrong–just that it’s more complicated than it seems.

    • partofme says:

      Scalia mentioned how one would go about handling this in the opinion. He used obscenity. The argument is that we CAN ban obscenity, we just often choose not to… for adults. Thus, we can ban it for minors. Similarly, we CAN ban selling and advertising tobacco, we just choose not to… for adults. Handguns, on the other hand, are likely to create a “sufficiently compelling state interest” for banning sale to minors, thus getting past the required scrutiny for laws that get close to violating the constitution.

  20. smartmuffin says:

    Dear Consumerist,

    Please note that “decisions we don’t like” are not automatically “decisions that don’t make sense.” If you’d like to know how the previously discussed decisions were arrived at, I am quite sure the justices write an opinion which you can consult.

    Your pal,

    SmartMuffin

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Nobody said “don’t like” = “don’t make sense”. That doesn’t mean they’re mutually exclusive.

      • jesirose says:

        The article contains the sentence “So they were due to do something that made sense.” The tone of the article makes this sound sarcastic. Implying the decision doesn’t make sense. The list of other decisions which the Consumerist has previously reported on and made clear they don’t approve of, is evidence of their feelings on this decision.

        It would have been better to leave out the “sense” stuff and just report the facts. That would never happen :)

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          I agree that the article says it doesn’t make sense. My point was, you can dislike something and feel it doesn’t make sense. You can also dislike something, but still agree that it makes sense.

          Smartmuffin seemed to be saying that Consumerist felt that, since they dislike the decisions, that was why they said “didn’t make sense”. I was trying to point out that maybe Consumerist wasn’t making that leap, and that it could be two separate feelings, that they both disliked the decision, and felt it didn’t make sense, rather than they disliked the decision, ergo it didn’t make sense.

          If that makes any sense.

  21. jeffile says:

    I guess the next thing to be lifted is the ban on kids going to watch XXX rated movies. Of course, it would be educational as the eight year olds would then have first hand sex knowledge prior to puberty. I guess that’s like getting an education before one enters the job market.

    • evnmorlo says:

      A lot less harmful than learning about sex from Justin Bieber.

      • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

        But, the Biebs says that if you’re raped and become pregnant, you should be forced to carry that baby. Surely he knows about this stuff…

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Yup, just like the next thing after allowing gay marriage is people marrying their dogs. What is this horrific, immoral world coming to!?

  22. XanthorXIII says:

    So does that mean asking for my age or proof of ID to purchase such games against the constitution?

  23. sumocat says:

    Great decision. I look forward to the flood of porn video games to follow because, you know, video games communicate ideas.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Stores can still refuse to sell certain games to minors. And, wonder of wonders, parents can still refuse to let their kids have them.

    • sqlrob says:

      There’s been porn video games for decades.

  24. INsano says:

    How did you forget to mention that they basically cemented full corporate control of our elections by affirming corporations as “persons” and that they have the right to unlimited campaign contributions? The others pale in comparison. That, I think historians of the future will agree, was the tipping point in America’s dalliance with democracy.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      You may well be right.

    • partofme says:

      Are you referring to the Citizens’ United? I was ‘lucky’ enough this weekend to be hurt and unable to go do much.. and I ended up watching the 4th Circuit’s review of this SCOTUS term. One of the First Amendment scholars on the panel, a lady from Yale, I believe, stated that the media got this decision allllll wrong. She summed it up in fantastic form (I’ll paraphrase):

      Before Citizens’ United, a corporation could run an ad saying, “Senator X kicks puppies. You should call Senator X and tell him to stop kicking puppies.” After Citizens’ United, a corporation could run an ad saying, “Senator X kicks puppies, and you shouldn’t vote for him.”

      Doesn’t sound as destroying-y of American democracy now, does it?

  25. oldwiz65 says:

    Maybe the SCOTUS justices own stock and get a cut of the profits from the game sales? The state governments can’t afford to the money needed to buy decisions from SCOTUS anyway, but drug companies and cellphone carrier groups and the entertainment industry people do have the money, so they get the decisions they want.

  26. OtakuboyT says:

    Well a broken clock is right once in a while.

  27. WalterSinister2 says:

    Wow, if the article is correct, then Thomas completely missed the point. It says he voted to uphold the ban because minors have no free speech rights. It’s not the minors that are speaking here though, it is the video game authors.

  28. AnthonyC says:

    By the time you’re old enough to be going to stores without a parent (say, 12 year olds at the mall) you’ve already encountered murder, sex, and all sorts of criminal activity on the news, let alone ordinary television and the internet. What exactly was this law supposed to accomplish in the first place?

    I myself put no stock in the idea that violent video games are so bad for children. I wouldn’t give GTA4 to an 8 year old, but by 14 I really don’t see the problem.

  29. kathygnome says:

    This, along with things like the best seller Go the Fuck To Sleep, is another sign that our long national nightmare of it taking a village to protect the children is finally coming to an end.

  30. FrugalFreak says:

    Let the parents not parent and let the kids grow up to be spoiled violent non appreciative brats. I’ll be dead by the time they are grown and can really mess things up.

  31. blanddragon says:

    Good. I’m tired of the nanny state. If you have kids, parent them! Relying of other to raise your kids is the real problem with them today.

  32. echovictorecho says:

    Totally anecdotal aside:

    When I was a kid my mom didn’t want me having, nor could we afford, a video game system. I should be reading or playing outside or engaging in other enriching, inexpensive activities.

    I quickly fell in with a group of boys whose parents let them play MK and Duke Nukem and anything else they liked, not to mention regular, often-bloody mock-WWEs in the back yard. I ended up kissing a few of them, too.

    Good parenting only goes so far. I voted with my feet. Clever, motivated kids will generally find ways to do the same.