Ban on Selling Violent Video Games to Minors Rejected

The U.S. Supreme Court has found state laws that prohibit the sale of violent video games to minors unconstitutional, saying that such restriction is against the First Amendment rights of young people.

Speaking for the majority, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia said in his decision that the protection of young children should not be an excuse to violate constitutional rights. “Even where the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply,” Scalia said in the decision that threw out a 2005 California law that prohibited sale and rental of violent video games to children under 18. The Supreme Court voted 7-2 against the law in the latest decision to uphold First Amendment rights.

Scalia said that video games “communicate ideas” and therefore, should be given First Amendment protection for free speech. However, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the two dissenters, said that blocking minors’s access to pornographic materials yet allowing them to get hold of violent video games does not make sense. “What sense does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting the sale to that 13-year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?” Breyer said.