The Supreme Court this week ruled against a California video game law that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors.
In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that video game content is protected by the First Amendment like books and movies.
“There is no tradition in this country of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence,” Justice Antonin Scalia said Mon.
In a majority opinion, the High Court stated that a legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech simply by weighing the value of a particular category against its social costs and then punishing it if it fails the test.”
Additionally, the court found the connection between violent video games and aggressive behavior to be small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media.
Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Bill AB 1179 into law which imposed a civil fine of $1,000 on any person who sold or rented a violent video game and required a label to be placed on games deemed violent.
The law was overturned post a lawsuit filed by video game trade groups.
Six other states passed similar laws that were all subsequently struck down in court.
The Entertainment Merchants Association currently employs a rating system for video games from E for Everyone to M for Mature. In addition, point-of-sale registers at retailers prompt employees to request identification for sale of video game titles intended for users age 17 and older.