April 26th, 2010
11:59 AM ET
5 years ago

High court accepts case over violent video games

The Supreme Court will decide whether states can put some video games off-limits to children.
The Supreme Court will decide whether states can put some video games off-limits to children.

Washington (CNN) - A free speech dispute over a California law banning sale of violent video games to children will go to the Supreme Court for review.

The justices Monday accepted the state's appeal and will decide whether the law is too restrictive in denying access by minors to often-graphic material. Video-game makers say the ban goes too far. They say the existing nationwide, industry-imposed, voluntary ratings system is an adequate screen for parents to judge the appropriateness of computer games.

The state says it has a legal obligation to protect children when the industry has failed to do so.

At issue is how far constitutional protections of free speech and expression, as well as due process, can be applied to youngsters. Critics of the law say the government would in effect be engaged in the censorship business, using "community standards" to evaluate artistic and commercial content.

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Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Hud

    Let's see, the state wants to keep 10-12 year olds from buying games where they can mutilate and decapitate the opponent, showing war and gang violence, etc. How is trying to protect our youth from these images a violation of Free Speech, when all "adults" are free to waste their money on this stuff????

    April 26, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    As the parent of grown children, with children of their own, I have dealt with this in my own family. I want the right to tell my minor children what I think is appropriate for them. I don't want manufacturers and/or vendors making that decision for me... They do not have my values or my children's personalities, interests or understanding at heart... They are motivated by profits.
    This is not to say that I did not or would not allow certain children access to that kind of game AFTER I REVIEWED IT.
    Manufacturers/vendors would LOVE to take their money, but are they then willing to accept responsibility for actions which result in the minds of certain "unrestricted" youth who are not, in fact able to understand/distinguish the game from life and what is right and propper.

    April 26, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Keith

    If they make stores put violent video games off-limits to kids it won't really do much. Two weeks ago the supreme court said the sale of animal cruelty videos is legal. Yet they're considering making unrealistic video games inaccessible to kids.

    April 26, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Video games needs to be rated and have parental supervision and not allowed to be puchased by minors .

    April 26, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    This is not a matter for the courts to decide. This is a parents decision. Anyway, video games are rated.

    April 26, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I'll say it again, CNN:

    What are the parents of these kids that the 'state must protect from the industry'? Chopped liver?..........

    April 26, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. dweston82

    If my kid spends $40 bucks for a game that I as a watchful parent finds him playing that I don't approve of – it is his loss and I have money for a movie. I don't need a rating system or a law as I AM WATCHING.

    Just point me to the used game store.

    April 26, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Joe

    I would like to see every state strongly regulate these hideous games. It has already been demonstrated that many of them are worse than the training videos used by the military. Children should not have access to them under any circumstances.

    April 26, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  9. Reality

    Attention Michael Armstrong Sr.

    They are already rated and games rated "M" aren't allowed to be bought by minors.

    The current system was fine.

    This is just trying to appeal to the "Protect the children"(by limiting freedoms) crowd.

    April 26, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    I agree with other posters in that it is the responsibility of the parents to determine what games their children should be allowed to play. When will this censorship stop? Will High School students be banned from reading "Brave New World" or "Catcher in the Rye" because of sexual scenes? Will they be banned from reading "Huckleberry Finn" because of the "N" word? Oh, wait, the conservatives who keep getting caught with their pants around their ankles have already done so!
    Because my wife and I spend a lot of time with our daughter she knows what she is allowed to and not allowed to do with movies, tv and electronic games. Yes, she is only 8 and has not pushed the envelope yet, but as long as we exercise positive parenting with her I do not forsee a problem.

    April 26, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. I

    @Dutch/Bad Newz, VA April 26th, 2010 12:48 pm ET
    This is not a matter for the courts to decide. This is a parents decision. Anyway, video games are rated.****I AGREE*****

    April 26, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. DIANA

    What a waste. The parents are going to buy them for their kids anyway. What are they going to do – make the parents sing a paper swearing they won't let little Johnny anywhere near these?

    April 26, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Dean

    This is a waste of their time. The Supreme Court won't even stop the videos showing and supporting illegal activities. They just ruled that videos of dog fighting to the death is allowable under free speech.
    And you people want a MORE liberal nominee from Obama????

    April 26, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Bob

    @Michael Armstrong Sr

    Video games ARE rated, and certain ratings ARE restricted to adults only. Please inform yourself with accurate information in the future. Good grammar would not hurt either.

    April 26, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Our children must be protected and parents can't always do it without help. It takes a village to raise a child.

    April 26, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. normajean

    Keep it up game-makers, there might be something you haven't taught these kids to get into trouble with. You may have missed something that the "teeners having learned or seen yet. When we have pre-teeners in jail and carrying guns, I'd say they have just about seen and heard it all. Obviously the almighty dollar is more important to you than the future of our kids. I think the law should step up with some strong guidelines as to what should not be available to this age group.Parents can only do so much no matter how hard we try.

    April 26, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. BB

    So Facism is just fine if Republicans want to take freedoms away from the people, but if people want to help people it's not?
    Hypocrits!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is not a court issue and I do not want to have my tax dollars wasted on such a stupid subject! I would rather my tax dollars go to schools, roads, bridges, healthcare!!!!!!!!!!

    April 26, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. Jameserizer

    Let's see...pornography has been strictly and totally off limits for kids since forever, but letting them virtually hack other people, monsters, and aliens to bloody shreds in exquisite, life-like detail and with the most vicious weapons imaginable is (ho hum) tolerated, if not exactly condoned? Well! If Pornography, then Violence! Either that, or let them have access to porn along with the violence! Why are the two held to different standards? I don't see any fundamental difference from a philosophical perspective.

    Oh, wait...I think I get it: the original aversion to pornography comes from our religious heritage where sex is evil but war is righteous. I wonder why that is?

    April 26, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Terry From West Texas

    This will be an easy case for the five Republican Party hacks on the Supreme Court to decide. They only have to ask two questions:

    1. Does this law, designed to protect children, reduce the profits of any corporation?

    2. Do the corporations who produce violent and psychologically sick video games contribute to the Republican Party?

    If the answer to either question is yes, then the law must fall.

    Case closed.

    April 26, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. Frank

    Lets do a lynch Clarence Thomas game, or a shoot John Roberts. That's free speech, right? How about a corporation putting them out as campaign materials, that's ok, right?

    April 26, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. Reggie from LA

    I don't care what the ratings intend, they will wind up in the hands of those below the "rated age"...and don't be in denial. Children do immoral, illegal things now that they wouldn't even know how to begin to do without having been enabled by grotesque video and idiots (of course). Is there anything positive beyond the entertainment value, that is? I know, "they are for entertainment". No, reading is entertainment. Good movies are entertainment. Sports are entertainment and healthy. The more violent, the more interesting. Take a ride by some of the old ball fields and basketball courts. See a lot of kids? They'll show up later as maladjusted adults. It's not censorship. This horror should never have been unleashed.

    April 26, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  22. dave

    YEAH RIGHT why aren't the parents following their kids everywhere they go to make sure no one sells them age inappropriate games –

    April 26, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. geecee

    Of course, no doubt the Supreme Court will protect our First Amendment rights and allow these video games to be sold to anyone, regardless of age and content, because the U.S. Supreme Court is not the least bit interested in the decay of the minds of American citizens, they just want to "protect" that great First Amendment whatever the cost to society.

    April 26, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Dustin

    "This is not a matter for the courts to decide. This is a parents decision. Anyway, video games are rated."

    Video games are rated by the video game industry – doesn't seem to make too much sense does it? As for the parents, I think people are naïve to think that parents know anything about video games. Set a standard for rating games, don't let kids buy mature (as rated independently not by the industry), and call it good.

    April 26, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |