Federal judge considers California video game law
A California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors
is being reconsidered by a Federal Judge under the 'strict scrutiny'
By Jason Bennert, Bay City News Service
May 13, 2006
SAN JOSE (BCN) - A federal judge yesterday appeared to
side with the video game industry's position that a California
law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors violated
the First Amendment protections on free speech.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte told attorneys for the
industry and the state of California that the law had to be considered
by a legal standard known as "strict scrutiny'' which grants
the broadest protection to free speech rights.
"It appears to me that the strict scrutiny standard does
apply,'' Whyte said.
The attorney representing the video game industry said Whyte's
comments are a good sign that he will rule the law unconstitutional.
"When strict scrutiny is applied, a law is rarely if ever
upheld,'' video game industry attorney Katherine Fallow said.
The law was authored by Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco,
and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year. It would levy
a $1,000 fine against any retailer that sold a game deemed too
violent to a minor. In December, Whyte issued a temporary order
stopping the law from taking effect in order to consider whether
it violates the First Amendment.
California Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini told Whyte
that there is strong scientific evidence that violent video games
can be harmful to a minor's development.
"There is overwhelming evidence and it's supported by every
major medical group,'' Morazzini said.
Outside the courthouse, Morazzini said the state is not trying
to restrict game manufacturers' free speech rights, but merely
wants to provide parents with a tool.
"The state's just trying to help parents protect their children.
Parents can't always be there when their children are buying video
games,'' Morazzini said.
Whyte promised to issue his ruling on the matter in the near
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