Minnesota's game law ruled unconstitutional

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Christopher Grant
August 1st, 2006
In this article: HF1298, Law, Legislation, Minnesota, Politics
Minnesota's game law ruled unconstitutional
U.S. District Judge James M. Rosenbaum exercised his judicial muscle today, striking down Minnesota bill HF1298, a bill that sought to impose a $25 fine on minors who purchase M- or AO-rated games. Like a gamer to an automatic weapon a moth to a flame, the ESA filed a lawsuit shortly thereafter.

The sagacious sponsor of the bill, Minnesota state representative Jeff Johnson, correctly predicted Judge Rosenbaum's ruling in May when he said, "... we are using the ESRB ratings. I can see a court saying you can't use private industry to create the law, but there's no way around that because everything else anyone has tried has been unsuccessful. The other piece is that so far no court has found a strong enough link (between game violence and youth violence)."

So they tried to circumvent the constitutional problems by relying on ESRB ratings to determine inappropriate content, to which Rosenbaum returned, "The First Amendment ... was certainly established to keep the government from becoming the arbiter of what constitutes 'worthless' or 'disgusting' speech." Zing! Johnson also acknowledged the shaky scientific grounds his law was predicated on, to which the ruling said "the state has shown no convincing evidence that children are harmed by [video games]."

For those keeping score at home, let's review:
  • St. Louis unconstitutional
  • Indianapolis unconstitutional
  • Washington State unconstitutional
  • Illinois unconstitutional
  • Michigan unconstitutional
  • Maryland (doesn't really count, so we'll let 'em have it)
  • California (currently under review by Federal District Court Judge Ronald Whyte)
  • Louisiana (lawsuit has been filed)
  • Oklahoma (lawsuit has been filed)
... and now ...
  • Minnesota unconstitutional
Your move, opportunist politicians of all stripes.

[Thanks, Nick]
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