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US Supreme Court to weigh California game law


The US Supreme Court today announced that it will consider an appeal by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger regarding the sale of violent video games to minors in the state. This marks the first time the federal court has been involved in a video game-related case.

The California bill backed by the Schwarzenegger has seen many, many, many ups and downs over the course of its five-year life span, going from a fledgling bill just waiting for the right signature to a chronically reputed source of frustration for the head of state; and most recently failing in California's Ninth Circuit Court. But as the governor is known to do, he returned once again, fulfilling his promise to bring Assembly Bill 1179 to the highest US court, reports Reuters.

Entertainment Software Association president and CEO Mike Gallagher commented in a press release on the Supreme Court's decision to see the case, called "Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants" (number 08-1448), saying, "Courts throughout the country have ruled consistently that content-based regulation of computer and video games is unconstitutional." He hopes that "the Court will reject California's invitation to break from these settled principles by treating depictions of violence, especially those in creative works, as unprotected by the First Amendment."

If the appeal is overturned, the law would require more stringent labeling requirements of violent games sold in California, as well as the threat of a $1,000 fine for each game sold by a retailer to a minor illegally. Historically, US Supreme Court rulings have been used to set precedent for other cases. In so many words, should the appeal be overturned, the Court's ruling could affect similar court decisions in other states. The earliest the appeal would be seen is in the Supreme Court's next term, which begins in October.

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