Issue Date: Vol. 43, No. 5 / May 25, 2003 - June 24, 2003, Posted On: 6/3/2003
Video Game Industry Wins St. Louis Case
ST. LOUIS, MO -- (Posted June 3) The video game industry won a major legal battle today. The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that games are protected expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court struck down a ban originally passed in 2000 in St. Louis, MO, outlawing the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. Attorney Ken Jones, editor of Missouri Lawyers Weekly, said the case "could affect every youngster in America who plays video games." Today's ruling overturns an earlier verdict from a federal district court in St. Louis that had held that video games were not a protected form of speech because they did not convey ideas or expression. "Simply put, depictions of violence cannot fall within the legal definition of obscenity for either minors or adults," the 8th Circuit said. The court also said claims that violent games cause psychological harm are "unsupported in the record." Most crucially, perhaps, the appeals court opinion stated: "the government cannot silence protected speech by wrapping itself in the cloak of parental authority."