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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 8, August 2010, Posted On: 7/25/2010

11 States Support Videogame Ban Before Supremes

Marcus Webb
Assembly Bill 1179, videogame, video game, video game violence, Arnold Schwarzenegger, video game ratings, Entertainment Software Ratings Board, American Amusement Machine Association and the Amusement, Music Operators Association

WASHINGTON -- The state Attorneys General of Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia have submitted amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting California's Assembly Bill 1179.

This law criminalized the act of selling or renting a videogame to consumers under age 18 deemed "violent" by officials. The high court accepted the case last March and is expected to hear oral arguments on the issue this fall.

Several of the states' briefs supporting the bill pointed to precedents in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of limiting minors' access to certain media, items, responsibilities and potential legal privileges or penalties including pornography, gambling, marriage, firearms, jury duty, tobacco, alcohol, voting, abortion, licenses and the death penalty.

The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), approved by the California General Assembly in October 2005 and signed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Entertainment Merchants Association filed suit to block the law. Implementation was immediately blocked by a district court. Lower level courts quickly nullified the law, and in February 2009 the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld that ruling. Schwarzenegger then filed for Supreme Court reconsideration.

The EMA and its allies have until Sept. 10 to file a brief supporting the Ninth Circuit Court ruling.

Consumer videogames are marketed under a voluntary self-imposed rating system administrated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has stated that the ESRB works better than comparable systems adopted by the motion picture and music industries. Coin-operated or pay-for-play videogames are likewise subject to a voluntary ratings system called the Coin-Operated Videogame Parental Advisory System, which is supported by the American Amusement Machine Association and the Amusement and Music Operators Association.

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