Dancing Judge, Gaming Judge (with baggage) Will Hear California Video Game Law Appeal Today

This morning when the state of California argues before the U.S. 9th Circuit that its 2005 video game law is constitutional, at least one member of the Court’s three-judge appeal panel will have some familiarity with games.

As GamePolitics has previously reported, Judge Alex Kozinski at one time penned game reviews for the Wall Street Journal. On a more serious note, Kozinski has also apparently survived a June scandal in which sexually graphic images were found on a personal website which he maintained.

Other panel members include Judge Sydney Thomas and Judge Consuelo Callahan (left). Callahan has been dubbed The Dancin’ Queen of the Ninth Circuit thanks to her penchant for beaking into tap routines (GP: You can’t make this stuff up.):

A hoofer with a sense of humor, Callahan likes to surprise judicial and legal gatherings by starting discussions about serious topics and ending with a quip about appellate judges who tap dance around issues. She then pulls off her black robe to reveal a sequined costume and tap shoes.

She’s been known to hop on a tabletop or in one case on a judicial bench during these special events and do some pretty impressive steps. "I may be the highest ranking tap dancer in federal court," Callahan said with a grin during a recent interview in her chambers in the Sacramento federal court building. "It is fun and it has a certain shock value."

Shock value, indeed. Wouldn’t it be fab if Judge Callahan broke out the tap shoes this morning?

Today’s hearing will take place at 9:30 am PST at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. In a press release, State Senator Leland Yee (D), architect of the contested video game law, offered his view:

California’s violent video game law properly seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of interactive, ultra violent video games. Our efforts to assist parents in the fight to keep these harmful video games out of the hands of children should survive Constitutional challenge under all levels of judicial review.
Based on an extensive body of peer-reviewed research from leading social scientists and medical associations, we narrowly tailored this law to serve the State’s compelling interest in protecting children. I am hopeful that the 9th Circuit will overturn the lower courts decision and help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder.

Game retailers group the Entertainment Merchants Association, along with game publishers group the ESA, are plaintiffs in the case. The EMA recapped the legal fight surrounding the California law in its own press release – hit the jump for the details.


In 2005, the state of California enacted a law to restrict the sale or rental to anyone under the age of 18 of computer and video games that are classified as “violent video games” if the depictions of violence in the games are offensive to the community or if the violence depicted is committed in an “especially heinous, cruel, or depraved” manner. The law was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2006.

Prior to the law taking effect, the [EMA] and the [ESA] filed suit against California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and others to prevent its enforcement. The plaintiffs asserted that the law’s restriction on the sale or rental of certain violent video games violates their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to freedom of expression and equal protection of the laws and is unconstitutionally vague.

In August 2007, a federal district court judge granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and permanently barred enforcement of California’s video game law. In doing so, the judge ruled that video games are protected by the First Amendment, the law is unduly restrictive and uses overly broad definitions, and the state failed to show that the limitations on violent video games would actually protect children.

The state of California appealed the summary judgment ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As part of that appeal, a three-judge panel of that court will hear arguments by the plaintiffs and the state on the constitutionality of the law.

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    Shadow Darkman Anti-Thesis of Jack Thompson says:


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    Shadow Darkman Anti-Thesis of Jack Thompson says:

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  4. 0
    Father Time says:

    To paint with broad generalizing strokes.

    Left – Civil Rights + government control over the economy + larger government

    Right- Free Market plus less civil rights + smaller government

    Now define socialism for me


    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  5. 0
    Nekowolf says:

    Exactly. If they want to watch us, show reason and get a warrent. The government is supposed to be under our control, not we under its. WE elected our leaders, and they were supposed to follow through with what we as a collective wanted, and they failed. And then suddenly, they wanted to spy on us. Well fuck that.

  6. 0
    Nekowolf says:

    Yes, unfortunately, but that’s the whole point; this isn’t the cold war anymore, socialism is merely the opposite of capitalism, not some kind of government-controls-all Communism bullshit. Just like in capitalism, there’s two sides, a liberal side and a conservative side. That "government-controls-all Communism" is the conservative side of socialism, which I am not by far.

  7. 0
    spastkid says:

    Hmm, technically, the idea that Socialism/Communism and the like are demonized, should be a product of the Cold War days? If i remember correctly, back then, it was fashionable amongst the politicians to brand all Pro-Socialism/Communism people as evil/anti-american/traitors to freedom, so on and so forth?

    That’s quite a long bit of frothing-at-the-mouth fear-mongering to counter by this time…


    Oooh! You mean there are people around with the mythical "Common Sense"?

  8. 0
    Nekowolf says:

    Then define Liberalism and Conservatism.

    There’s more than just one ideology and party for both, and the same is true in American Socialism. It depends who you ask. My problem is that all Socialism seems to be automatically considered as bad, or Communism, or some thing else of the likes.

  9. 0
    Father Time says:

    Define Socialism then, and please don’t skimp on the economic details.


     "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  10. 0
    Father Time says:

    It leans socialist but I doubt it actually is socialist.

    The U.S. leans capitalist but it certainly isn’t a pure free market.


     "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  11. 0
    Nekowolf says:

    I believe France as well, and they have the most beautiful healthcare system I have ever heard of.

    In Denmark, if your a citizen, education is free to attend, even at college and university levels! You don’t pay tuitions and such! In fact, you’re GIVEN money if you go to college!

  12. 0
    Nekowolf says:

    Unfortunately, that is NOT what Socialism is about. And this is to both of you, THAT is Authoritarianism. The USSR, Cuba, etc. were Authoritarian governments, dictatorships, and that is not what we want.

    @Zerodash – again, you are incorrect. We do not want "oppressive" taxation or taxation without representation. Nor do we want "a government that is involved in every part of your life." We want a socialist society where the people are in control through election; nobody is simply appointed into positions of government power, there’s no electorial college, and we do not want any government interference with personal lives. Wiretapping, censorship, anything like that, we do NOT want. The Patriot Act, Christian Right, "Culture of Fear," that is the stuff we are against. What stuff like our current parties have been saying about Socialism is utter bullshit.

    There is a lot more to us Socialist than just this idea that all we want is Communism, that we want the government to control everything. Both of you, and anyone else who think that, needs to learn that.

  13. 0
    Xveers says:

    And yet you conveineintly ignore a lot of other "socialist" countries that became said as a result of peaceful political action via the democractic proccess. There’s Canada, for starters, which certianly leans that way. Don’t see people here suffering like you state… How about Sweeden or Denmark? No, they’re all forced to vote one way and be paid horrible wages for poor conditions.


    Best keep your wits about you: The gears of life are always spinning, and ignorance eventually means you’ll get caught in them.

  14. 0

    Leland Yee is a actually a Democrat.

    -Remember kids, personal responsibility is for losers! -The Buck Stops Here. -Thou Shall Not Teamkill, Asshole.

  15. 0
    Thomas McKenna says:

    No, actually he’s not.  Socialism forces the equality of classes through monetary means.  It is, by definition, the midway point between real Communism and Capitalism.  In fact, there has never once been a real Communist country. 

    USSR, China, Cuba…they all have govenments, and usually very strong willed people leading the government.  They all have (or had in the case of the USSR) a form of money.  These two things together make it, by definition, not Communism.  However, that’s what they decided to call it, so despite it’s fallacy that’s what it’s been known as.  In fact, their systems were mostly Socialistic.  Hell, cuba is now pure socialistic, and makes no claims of being communist.  How does this effect the citizens?

    They get paid horrible wages.  No one is allowed to succeed more than another person in the country by legal means (this is not so true in China anymore, as in recent history they’ve become very capitalistic, but still very hell bent on controlling it’s population).  Their forms of medicin are much lower than those in a capalistic society.  The governments are corrupt as they can get.  Anyone in open disagreement with the state is labeled suspect.  The list goes on.

    Socialism is what the Red Scare was all about.  Before saying how great and good it is, try taking a look at most socialist societies in recent history.  Nazi Germany, the USSR, Cuba, China.  The list is sizable, and in each one there is shown a complete disregard for the freedoms and liberties we define as being absolute.  In each one, we see a horrible living condition for everyone who’s not part of the elite class (as in, those not connected to the government somehow).  In each one, we see an abuse of power by the government.

    Sure, it may sound nice for everyone to get healthcare, a good education, cheap or free medicin, retirement plans, etc.  However you fail to realize that this strives for a balancing of results.  Once you put a limit to how much a person can acheive, you’re destorying freedom.  Once you give the government power over every aspect of your life (taxes, health care, retirement, disability, aid, etc) then you have no freedom.  The socialism we see in America today is no where near this bad.  But it’s just in it’s early stages.  Like a weed, if not killed when it’s young it will continue to grow and devour everything.  You may be doing it for noble reasons, I mean, who doesn’t feel sorry for those living in poverty?  But still, you’re noble reasons are feeding a disease which destroys freedom.

    You can argue semantics or points, but history can teach us that Socialism is the death knell of freedom.

  16. 0
    Zerodash says:

    From my point of view, oppressive taxation and a government that is involved in every part of your life (that you are utterly dependent on) is not freedom.  But that debate is for another forum.

  17. 0

    Oh for God’s sake…

    Oh well…at least he didn’t compare games to alchohol and pornography this time…



    -Remember kids, personal responsibility is for losers! -The Buck Stops Here. -Thou Shall Not Teamkill, Asshole.

  18. 0
    VideolandHero says:

    If somebody could prove that M rated games hurt kids, then I would support this.  But they don’t.

    I only wish I could actually be there, it looks like it will be entertaining!

    — Official Protector of Videoland!

  19. 0
    digdug says:

    These games are not harmful, kids are not being harmed by playing them, theres plenty of safeguards in place already (ratings, PARENTS, retailers…), but this law would badly damage the video game industry and chill free expression for games. Its completely unecessay. There is NO compelling government interest, its an unconstitutional infringement of free speech rights.

  20. 0
    mogbert says:

    This leaves so much room for puns and such, I don’t know where to start.

    However, these guys just have to know when they need to stop beating a dead horse. These laws are going to keep being made and they claim they are narrow, but unfortunately they are so wide as to be near useless. I don’t think they can use teh ESRB ratings, a voluntary rating, as the basis for fining the stores. So what can they use? Unfortunately, it may be their own judgement. And in an industry where Mass Effect is described as a sex simulator, Call of Duty 4 is called a terrorist game, and even Donkey Kong was linked to… well how are they to know what is violent?

    Let’s take a look at some descriptions of games seen from the conservative side:

    A highly addictive game involving over-consumption, drugs, and devouring the souls of the departed. Pac-Man

    Game reveling in 3D renderings of extreme violence, sorcery, and one-on-one fights to the death. The game also greatly rewards players for killing women. Battle Chess

    A game marketted specifically to children, it uses a realistic gun and trains to quickly and accurately kill, in essence turning off their brain and programed to shoot anything that moves. Duck Hunt

    This game features crossdressing, racial stereotypes, a love triangle, the player commiting terrorist acts, and even culmanates with a woman being impaled in slow motion, a scene so disturbing that many players were forced to tears and/or to stop playing the game. Final Fantasy VII

    Now I ask you, are these the kinds of games you want your children to play, or worse, your neighbor’s children?


  21. 0
    Zero Beat says:


    We’re in the middle of a recession.  The money they’re going to burn on this would be much better suited for just about anything.

    I can only hope that a law is passed to make lawmakers financially culpable for passing a feel-good law that they know or should know is doomed to fail.

  22. 0
    Nekowolf says:

    I resent that! Socialism is NOT this Communist ideal that it’s been thought of since the Red Scare. I am quite a bit liberal and a Socialist. If you think that Socialism is nothing but anti-freedom and conservatism, you are so very wrong.

  23. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    It absolutely astounds me that after three years, Yee still can’t get this right.

    “…we narrowly tailored this law to serve the State’s compelling interest in protecting children.” –Yee

    And completely failed.

    Read Judge Whyte’s ruling. You can’t just say you have a compelling State interest to protect children from "the harmful effects of interactive, ultra violent video games" and call it a day. You have to do three very important things:

    1. Prove there’s something out there that’s harming children that the state needs to protect them from. (Sorry, increased aggression doesn’t constitute harm.)

    2. Prove that your law will actually protect children from "the harmful effects of interactive, ultra violent video games." (Does the law keep kids from playing these games? No? Then it fails.)

    3. Prove that your law would be more effective then the measures already out there. (Will a sales restriction work better then game ratings, parental involvement, parental controls, and the oodles of readily available information? No. Especially considering that well over ninety percent of the time, kids aren’t the ones buying the games anyway!)

    Andrew Eisen

  24. 0
    SounDemon says:

    If you use "ultra-violent" without seeing A Clockwork Orange, Mr. Yee, then you should be shot by the governor that signed the law. After all, he TERMINATES programs.

  25. 0
    magic_taco says:

    I do believe like everyone else here that we need to keep violent/sexual media away from minors, this law is utter BS, This may gave JT something to masturbate about, When will fathers be real men and when will women be real women, Its suppossed to be the parents responsibility, the goverment cant tell you what video game you play or what kind of food you eat whelter its health or not,Im glad i live in florida, I do wanna visit california one day to see popular areas and such, I agree with Zel, I hope the law gets vetoed or booted, its a waste of money and time, The time Gov.Arnuld needs to do is make bills to stop the violent crime/gangs/gang activity california has. 


    El "Magico Taco"

  26. 0
    zel says:

    Apparently the kids need protection from their own parents or something. I mean are these people trying to say that kids are going into best buy or game stop without a parent and buying whatever they want? I mean do 8 year olds run rampant in california without a parent, with a wad of cash buying games left and right? Seems to me like they’re focusing on the wrong issue here if thats the case. If they don’t regulate sale of R rated movies then why do they want to regulate sales of games?

    They do regulate porn videos tho, so obviously porn games would fall into that category but thats a different topic IMO. O.o

    All I see is waste of taxpayer money trying to pass BS legislation to further their own careers, so they can look back and say LOOK, I DID THAT! It’s getting to the point that pretty soon every citizen should be issued an abridged book of laws to consult before they do anything in life anymore. Or maybe we could have wearable computers with a bug in our ear analyzing our every move and checking laws for us and every time you do something wrong it whispers in your ear telling you you’re in violation.

    What a horrible future >.<


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  27. 0
    Father Time says:

    So this case can turn into a three ring circus without Jack Thompson’s help. Good to know.


    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  28. 0
    Zerodash says:

    A recurring theme amongst Yee and other proponents of these bills is their claims that the Founding Fathers never intended Free Speech to be absolute.  They are careful to appeal to the emotions by issuing statements like "the Founding Fathers never intended the First Ammendment to allow children to be trained as killers".  

    Eventually, one of these laws will get through- the USA is becoming less free every year thanks to the efforts of seemingly opposing ideals: The Patriot Act; the Christian Right; Socialism; and the "Culture of Fear".

  29. 0
    Shadow Darkman Anti-Thesis of Jack Thompson says:

    A "WTF Bomb" just went off in my head. Here’s a transcript…





    My God, Zippy, what have you done?



  30. 0
    darkenchanter says:

    Wow, you even managed to get a ‘modest proposal’ reference in there, that is old-school comedy at its finest.


    Joining the Manhunt 2 rush on the 31st!

  31. 0
    Father Time says:

    No that can’t be right then Burger King will just say that ‘people die for the taste of our whoppers’ or say it’s a promotion for a sequel to Se7en.

    Gentlemen I believe something much more sinister is afoot. Mcdonald’s has a vested interest in us eating whoppers. And it seems fascinated with Monopoly year after year. The only logical conclusion is that they are trying to take over the fast food market, the board game cartel and eventually the entire world. Just look how quickly they’ve spread throughout the world.

    We must stop them now or soon they’ll come out with a McModest Proposal for the rest of the world and start serving Baby McFlesh nuggets to the hungry masses. It’s all ready gotten a lot of kids to love that stupid clown through it’s charity and ads, and those kids can enlist more willing volunteers all at the beck and call of Ronald McSlaveDriver.

    Gentlemen we need to all apply for Mcdonald’s and get in on the action before it’s too late. You can’t fight these people, they’ll have you skewered, cooked, possibly frozen recooked and served with a side of fries in an instant.


    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  32. 0

    I think McDonald’s would force you to stuff Whoppers down your throat, killing you. Then BK would get all the bad publiscity and McDonald’s would be there to "save the day" with a newer "healthier" menu.


    So it kind of works. 😉

  33. 0
    CMiner says:

    No, you see, that’s how devious they are!  It’s a conspiracy!  So desperate are they to make America’s children fat that they will stop at nothing to get these calorie bombs into the hands of minors, even selling them at a competing franchise!  EZK is simply a henchman of the industry trying to bury the truth!

  34. 0
    Austin_Lewis says:

    We live in an information superage.  Because of this, I am absolutely astounded when parents say they didn’t know what their kids were playing when they bought it, or that they didn’t know this or that.

    It’s just as bad as the voting; I bet of all the people who vote this year, only a handful have actually read back and seen how Obama voted, and I bet even fewer look at him in old debates or in his old positions.  We live in an information superage, but people just take the lazy way and get bullshit from the TV and pretend to make informed decisions. 

  35. 0
    Father Time says:

    "It’s McDonald’s fault that I cram 3 whoppers down my/my children’s throats everyday and now we are overweight!"

    If it’s Mcdonalds making you eat whoppers, something is seriously wrong. You can only get whoppers at Burger King.


    Darn you EZK you beat me to it. I guess I’ll just grab a Mcflurry from Starbucks now and curse my rotten luck.


    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  36. 0
    Loudspeaker says:

    It is sad that these laws even get this far.  You’d think the voters would be up in arms about this stuff.  I dunno.  Hopefully there will be a changing of the guard as it goes with the voting generations.

    I totally agree with you though.  Personal responsibility need to be reintroduced into American society by repealing all these laws that let people shift the blame. 

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  37. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Public apathy leads to bureaucracy running out of control, government or societal mangment is bureaucracy by default we can have logical reasonable bureaucracy but without stern rules that send those that break those rules to jail, disbarment from government and its pension and even dare I say before a firing squad…..

    We need a firing squad to put the noble class of bureaucrats back in "line"…..

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  38. 0
    CMiner says:

    "… help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder."

    Because parents today are completely unable to research a product’s contents, or even see the rating warning on a game’s box, and make a decision based on factual information.  And if the game somehow magically appears in the household, and the parent by some freakish coincidence actually takes a look at what their child is spending time doing and finds it inappropriate, their hands are completely tied.  Game is already in the house, damage done, no way the parent can, y’know, take the game away once they realize its not appropriate.

    Unless this law passes, parents are powerless to decide what their kids watch or play.

    To empower parents to protect their children, we must empower the government to do a parent’s job.



    What is happening to responsibility in this country?  Not just with video games, where the political argument is basically that the government needs to replace parents, but also with health (It’s McDonald’s fault that I cram 3 whoppers down my/my children’s throats everyday and now we are overweight!  It’s not my fault), mental disorders (Oh, he/she/I just has <insert psychiatric label here>, that’s why he/she/I misbehave, not not a lack of discipline or self control.  It’s not my fault.), finances (The government should have stopped me from taking out a mortgage that I can’t afford.  It’s not my fault.)

    Side note: I know that there are legitimate mental disorders that cause behavioural problems, but so often these labels are put on kids improperly, as an excuse rather than a legitimate diagnosis.

  39. 0
    Icehawk says:

    Has less to do with a (laughable) conscience and much more to do with covering his political arse.   Oh he is still (and very much) a hypocrite but there is a certain perverse (well preverted anyway) logic to it. 

  40. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    I still consider Schwarzenegger to be a hypocrite. Apparently, when he shoots people, drops them off of cliffs or sets off bombs in crowded travel-areas, that’s perfectly acceptable, because it’s a movie, but when it’s in a Video Game he’s suddenly concerned about the ‘kiddies’.

    He’s already got his money and fame, so now, all of a sudden, he develops what can laughably be called a conscience about it all.

  41. 0
    Bigman-K says:

    I hope this is struck down and that’s the end of it. No more of this idiotic anti-free speech, pro-censorship legislation. Then maybe Leland Yee and Arnold can deal with some real problems that are effecting California rather then this usless drivel that does nothing to protect children (as their is nothing children need to be protected from here) and nothing to solve any sort of legitimate problem (as their is no problem here to being with).

    "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  42. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Politics and government by proxy will pass stupid measures in order to show they are doing something.

    Just because they are doing something dose not mean tis worthwhile…look at Australia and the insanity over net censorship


    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  43. 0
    ezbiker555 says:

    Are people that stupid? There is a reason why we have ESRB! If you want to protect your kids than don’t buy little johnny GTA for his Birthday. Fuckin aye.

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