News

AG says state petitioning Supreme Court to uphold video game law

Law requires that violent games be labeled, prohibits sale or rental to minors, authorizes fines for violations

California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced today that the state is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a 2005 state law prohibiting the sale or rental of brutally violent games to children.

Brown announced the petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court on behalf of California. If at least four of the nine justices

grant the petition, the court will take up the case and review the decision that invalidated the law.

Assembly Bill 1179, authored in 2005 by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, would require that violent video games be labeled with as being for adults only, prohibit the sale or rental of the games to minors, and authorize fines of up to $1,000 for each violation.

The law was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but was challenged in federal court by the group Video Software Dealers before it could go into effect. On Aug. 6, 2007, the U.S. District Court for Northern California invalidated the law, according to Brown's office.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's ruling on Feb. 20.

Yee said today that the battle over the violent video game law "has been a case of David fighting Goliath."

Yee said that when the bill was still in the Legislature, "we had ourselves and the Girl Scouts helping out, and they had legions of high-paid lobbyists coming to advocate for their positions."

The Supreme Court has a history of hearing cases concerning the protection of children, including cases about child labor laws, pornography and capital punishment, Yee said.

He said California's law is different from bills in other states, though because "it only applies to a narrow type, what we call ultra-violent video games where you push a button and you are killing, shooting, and maiming individuals."

Yee, who is also a child psychologist, said there is ample evidence that such games are harmful to children.

"When you play these games...you over learn the behavior, it becomes second nature, it becomes a habit to you," he said.

Schwarzenegger said today in a prepared statement that he "signed this important measure to ensure parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children...I will continue to vigorously defend this law and protect the well-being of California's kids."

--Bay City News

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