CHICAGO -- The Amusement and Music Operators Association has weighed in before the U.S. Supreme Court, joining a broad coalition of state attorneys general, industry and business associations, free speech advocacy organizations and many other interests in opposing California's controversial law banning youth access to "violent" videogames.
The case at issue is Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association & Entertainment Software Association. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Nov. 2.
The legislation in question was sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), approved by the General Assembly in October 2005 and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It prohibited the sale or rental of "violent" videogames to anyone under the age of 18 and required a label affixed to all games falling into this category. It also would have imposed a fine of up to $1,000 on anyone who sells or rents violent videogames to minors.
Because it was immediately challenged by the home videogame industry and blocked by a district court, the law was never enforced. The U.S. District Court for Northern California declared the law unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds in 2007. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the same in February 2009. Soon after, Schwarzenegger filed for Supreme Court reconsideration.
AMOA said it is asking the Supreme Court to uphold a lower court's decision that California's videogame law, Assembly Bill 1179, is unconstitutional.
AMOA joins a of a coalition of more than 180 organizations and experts ranging from First Amendment authorities to social scientists. It also includes attorneys general from 10 states and U.S. territories. They are from Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Washington State. More states may join by the time the case is argued in the nation's Capital.
About a dozen of these organizations have filed their own amicus curae (friend of the court) briefs opposing the California law. In addition to the First Amendment argument, a novel argument is being advanced by the state attorneys general. Their brief argues that California's law would make it easier for violent criminals to employ a "videogames made me do it" defense, in addition to wasting law enforcement resources on policing the games industry. A comprehensive review of amicus curae briefs opposing the California law can be found here.
The American public strongly supports the California law, according to a poll conducted in mid-August by Zogby International. According to Zogby, 72% of adults support a ban on the sale of violent videogames to minors.
So far, 11 states -- Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia -- have submitted an amicus brief in support of California´s law.
Additional briefs favoring the California law were filed by the California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the California Psychological Association and Sen. Yee, the bill's original sponsor.
82 prominent law professors
Several manufacturers of videogames
A dozen state retailer federations
Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Civil Liberties Union
American Society of News Editors
Cato Institute, the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Center for Democracy & Technology
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Computer & Communications Industry Association
Consumer Electronics Association
Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition
Consumer Federation of America
Digital Liberty Project
Entertainment Consumers Association
First Amendment Coalition
First Amendment Project
Freedom to Read Foundation
Future of Music Coalition
Information Technology Industry Council
International Game Developers Association
Motion Picture Association of America
National Association of Broadcasters
National Association of Media Arts and Culture
National Broadcasters Association
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
National Press Photographers Association
Progress & Freedom Foundation
Radiotelevision Digital News Association
Recording Industry Association of America
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Society of Professional Journalists
Students for Free Culture
Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
U.S. Chamber of Commerce