Tag Archives: Silent Hill Downpour

Will the Supreme Court bar minors from buying violent video games?

Silent Hill: Downpour, unveiled at this year’s E3, is the newest game in the series that pits humans against monsters. Will an upcoming Supreme Court ruling ban its sale to minors?

As game journalists decompress from this year’s E3, word from the Supreme Court on a California video-game law is still pending.

Justices heard the case, Brown vs. EMA (formerly Schwarzenegger vs. EMA), Nov. 2, but have yet to issue a ruling on the law, which bans the sale of “ultraviolent” video games to buyers under 18. California courts found the law unconstitutional in 2007, so it never took effect. Among the cases before the court, this one has been waiting the longest for resolution.

That’s giving many the opportunity to speculate on just what is going on behind the scenes. For example:

The longer a case has been awaiting resolution, the longer the decision is likely to be, and the greater the number of justices weighing in with dissenting or concurring statements. One case handed down on the last day of the last term, involving gun-owner rights, ran for more than 200 pages over five separate opinions.

Readers may recall that in March, Michael McConnell, director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, said, “The Supreme Court is not likely to say that this statute is constitutional. I think they’re going to strike it down. But I don’t think they’re going to go as far as say these types of statutes are unconstitutional — they might uphold more narrowly defended statutes in the future.”

A recent United Press International analysis scrutinizes both sides of the argument, including the fact that California is asking the Supreme Court to consider applying this law in the same way as the 1968 ruling that barred the sale of “obscene” material to minors:

California wants the Supreme Court to review the law under the standard set by 1968’s Ginsberg vs. New York: “Under the Ginsberg standard, the act must be upheld so long as it was not irrational for the California Legislature to determine that exposure to the material regulated by the statute is harmful to minors.”

Although McConnell thought this law would be struck down, some have argued that the delay in issuing a ruling means the Supreme Court might uphold it. It’s also possible that they’ll strike it down, but their ruling will include information on how a narrower, rewritten bill could be constitutional.

What do you think the Supreme Court will do? Will they let minors continue to buy violent video games, or will they make such sales illegal?