Obama’s Supreme Court Short List Includes Game Legislating Michigan Guv

With the constitutional battle over California’s 2005 video game law apparently heading to the U.S. Supreme Court, potential appointments to the Court by President-elect Barack Obama take on added significance to gamers.

While there are no current SCOTUS vacancies, NPR’s Nina Totenberg reports that, given the age of the current justices, one or more slots are likely to open up during Obama’s presidency.

Among potential Obama appointees, Totenberg drops the name of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Veteran GamePolitics readers will recall that Granholm was the driving force behind Michigan’s 2005 violent video game law, later ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court judge. Michigan was compelled to pay the video game industry’s legal fees in that case to the tune of $182,349.

In 2006 Granholm also joined other Michigan politicians in calling for a boycott of Eidos’ controversial cops-and-robbers shooter 25-to-Life.

The appointment of Granholm could influence any Supreme Court consideration of laws related to video games. Current Justice Antonin Scalia has previously commented that video game restrictions might be constitutional.

Totenberg also notes that Hillary Clinton, whose anti-game resume far exceeds that of Granholm, has been mentioned as a possible justice. However, Totenberg concludes that a Clinton appointment would be seen as far too political for the Supreme Court.

Obama, of course, is an expert on constitutional law. In his book, The Audacity of Hope, he writes:

The Constitution envisions a road map by which we marry passion to reason — the ideal of individual freedom to the demands of community. And the amazing thing is that it has worked.

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  1. Sunhunterwith2 says:

    President-elect Obama might want to consider Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray or Senator Hillary Clinton

  2. GamesLaw says:

    I can almost guarantee this will not happen.

    Obama’s first SCOTUS appointment is almost assuredly going to Elena Kagan, dean of Harvard Law School, who has been shortlisted for a SCOTUS appointment for some time.

    Dan "SWATJester" Rosenthal Executive Director, GamesLaw.net

    Member, ABA IP Law Division Special Committee on Computer Gaming and Virtual Worlds

  3. Truec says:

    The roads are fixed?  That’s news to me.  The same construction crews have been repairing the same stretches of highway every year from what I’ve seen.  And that’s not even getting into the in-town bits. 

    Also, hasn’t unemployment skyrocketed under Granholm?  Which may or may not have to do with businesses either closing down or leaving the state like rats from a sinking ship.

    No arguments about Obama avoiding her after that primary bullhonkey though.

  4. Truec says:

    Bah, meant to reply to an earlier comment…

    Regardless, my opinion on this is mixed.  on the one hand, giving Granholm the position fills me with terror.  On the other, it would get her out of Michigan, which fills me with joy.

  5. Phlopsy says:

    And in case you’re a flaming moron, I’d like to clarify that this means an Obama presidency is very bad for gamers.

    Good job, youth vote. 

  6. Hevach says:

    Didn’t live in Michigan under Engler, I guess? Everything that’s broken now was broken then. At least she’s fixed the roads.

    No way in hell Obama picks her for anything, though. She was connected with the Democrats that screwed up the primary here in Michigan, and tried to propose a way to assign the state’s delegates to Clinton. I doubt any Democrat from Michigan is going to be on the short list of anything after that.

  7. PHOENIXZERO says:

    Better part is that she was our Attorney General before being Governor so she should know a thing or two about the law… She doesn’t care about the constitution.

  8. Uh... says:

    Ok great, we’re worried about anti-game justices being appointed to the Supreme Court. NOW WHAT? Our ability as a gaming community to organize and lobby congress for our cause will enable us to protect our rights. There are millions of law abiding, tax paying gamers who helped to elect Obama and congress. Let us not be a silent majority. It’s your call people. Either sit here and complain about the issue in your blogs and forums, or do as Obama says, and start to truly include yourselves in government.

  9. the1jeffy says:

    Video Games aside, she would be a terrible pick, and would mar Obama’s uncontroversial record.  He won’t do that.  Expect him to nominate someone the fringe left doesn’t like.  I can hope anyway.

    ~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

  10. Ashkihyena says:

    Oh, here it comes, anti-video gameness already abounds in Obama’s term.  Worst part is, he hasn’t already been inagurated (sp?) yet.

  11. Raptortim says:

    NO! Do not do it! I live in Michigan, and she destroyed this state! She is an anti-video game activist that will destroy our hobby!

  12. GamesLaw says:

    Sunstein has a far better chance than this woman does, though he’ll have to be replacing a male justice.

    Dan "SWATJester" Rosenthal Executive Director, GamesLaw.net

    Member, ABA IP Law Division Special Committee on Computer Gaming and Virtual Worlds

  13. illspirit says:

    Well, Obama has said that he would pick people along the lines of Breyer, Souter, and Ginsburg. Two of whom advocate using foreign law as a reference. That may not be a litmus test for him, but, yea.

    I’m more worried that he would pick his fellow professor Cass Sunstein though.

  14. tossetaz says:

    Bit too generalizaing i’dd say. Censoring is mainly reserved for Germany and Greece, and maybe the UK. Denmark has a long history of non censorship, and it’ll continue.

  15. Monte says:

    My problem with the electoral system is not the system itself but how those electoral votes are distributed between candidates. Under the current system, 48 out of 50 states give ALL their electoral votes to whoever gets the most votes in the states… i have to ask, in california, do the republican voters find it fair that 100% of the state goes to the democrats? it just seems to feel like the votes of 30-40% of the entire state is being ignored. I thinkk the republicans there would be happy to see something like 20 of those votes go to their candidate; same goes for anyone else in a heavy red or blue state… Unless you are from a swing state, your vote doesn’t really count for much at all since the only way your vote can turn the tide of an election is if there is like a ridciolously huge number of people suddenly voting for a different party. I really do think that winning 60% of a state should only grant you 60% of the electoral vote and not the whole damn thing (though states would need as many electorals as they do delegates in the primaries  to get a proper distribution)

    Not ot mention the electoral vote system would be hard to get rid of anyway since the system i think is outlined in the constitution… however, the change to altering how the electoral votes are distributed would be simplier since the constitution just leaves that up to each state… so really it’s well within each state’s power to change

    Though i doubt anything will ever be done… i’m sure both democrats and republicans like the current system due to the fact that they know the states where they are safe… they know that they only need to focus on the toss up states and can more or less ignore the rest. It doesn’t seem like the most democratic thing to do, but i think its one of those things that politicians are willing to ignore for the sake of maintaining their power; god forbid the republicans would want to risk a single texan vote, or the democrats risk california or new york vote (even if they could gain ground in other states to amke up for it)

  16. Dark Sovereign says:

    If it weren’t for the electoral votes, California would set all of our policy decisions. The system usually works fairly well.

  17. Monte says:

      Indeed, thanks to how bad the Bush years had been, any republican was suffering a major handicap… And McCain’s Poorly managed campaign (i felt he spent to much time and energy trying to give the hard right what they wanted and in effect ended up pushing away everyone else like the moderates and independants; the ones most at risk of switching to Obama) and the economy falling apart at a time when the GOP were the easiest to blame only made things worse… Despite Obama’s landslide electoral victory, the popular vote shows that the race was relatively closer and still show a fairly even split between conservatism and liberalism; particularly if you take into account the heavy GOP handicap…

    really we can’t let Obama’s landslide victory throw us off to how the general population thinks… Honestly, the stark difference between the electoral votes and the popular votes only continue to remind me how flawed i think the current electoral vote system is… The numbers from the electoral college makes it look like Obama won by like over 30% while the popular vote only shows a 6% lead. Really, if the electoral vote system was an accurate representation of what the voters wanted then the numbers and percentages out of the electoral college should be reflective of the popular vote. I think a promise to fix the flaws in the voting system will be something that would heavily influence my future voting; seriously last thing i want to see is like we had in 2000… legally bush won, by all common sense tells us that Gore is what the people wanted since he won the popular vote

  18. Dark Sovereign says:

    "thriving liberalism in America"

    What? He won because this is a phenomenally bad year for the GoP. He doesn’t represent some kind of radical shift in the populace. Did you notice that the only times he discussed liberal ideas were accidents? Liberalism is thriving in government, but not in the community.

  19. Haggard says:

    If violent games get banned in the US a publisher has less incentive to risk money on making more of them, so even if Europe keeps on buying, there may not be so many.

  20. Zerodash says:

    Europe is already censoring/banning games.  Canada might be the last bastion for games if the US gets these anti-free speech laws.

  21. zel says:

    "Everything you do can have an impact on others."

    There are plenty of things I can do that have absolutely no impact on anyone other than me. Arranging my canned goods on the shelf alphabetically wouldn’t ‘impact’ anyone for instance. besides, the idea that impacting someone in the slightest is cause for censure or new law is ridiculous.

    Also, "individual freedom" isn’t something people commonly invoke or claim to have when commiting murder, rape, or theft so your example of rape isn’t exactly a good one. The ‘individual’ part of the equation is lost when you start to directly involve other people with your actions. For instance people might think speeding on the highway would be an individual freedom but the thing is there are other people on the highway and your speeding can get them killed or seriously injured, hence speed limits are placed to try and reduce risk (although IMO as vehicle technology advances so should speed limits).

    In the end, the best approach is usually a nice mix of control and freedom 🙂 the ratio of the mix is what we argue usually 😛


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

  22. Father Time says:

    ‘For example, you are not allowed to shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater."

    Yeah because that causes an uneccesary panic and disturbs the peace (unless there is a fire).

    "People in this country are not mature enough to take responsibility for their actions"

    Just because some people cannot handle liberty doesn’t mean I have to have mine taken away. That’s exactly like saying men should not be allowed to eat steak because babies can’t chew it.

    "Obviously a ridiculous example, but what if your neighbor felt it was okay to have sex with your underage daughter? Should he be allowed to based on that being his individual freedom?"

    Are you talking rape or consesual sex?If you’re talking consensual that’s up for debate depending on the age of the daughter.


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

  23. deuxhero says:


    All of the rights (actual rights, as in the ones in the consitution, not rights liberals flasly claim exisit, like a "right" to a job, or other nonsense) we have (except trial by jury and right to representation) require no one to give up anything for you to have.


    The two exception, right to trial by jury and right to representation have one key detail in common that you should be able to figure out on your own.



  24. Dark Sovereign says:

    OK, let’s extend that. If people cannot be trusted with freedoms, why should they be given freedoms at all?

  25. Father Time says:

    Do you have a source for statement two?


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

  26. deuxhero says:

    1.many foreign courts have allowed video game legilation

    2.Obama wants to appoint justices who will decide cases based on foreign court dessisions.



  27. Father Time says:

    Her nomination to the supreme court is only speculative.


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

  28. TaoJeannes says:

    An justice willing to ban video games is willing to ban anything. A justice willing to ban video games cares about her own ideas for society over her job of interpreting the Constitution. A justice willing to ban video games is not a justice.

    Obama supporters are about to figure out just what they’ve gotten themselves into.

  29. Torven says:

    I don’t think this appointment is something to worry about.  While the president might nominate someone with no judicial experience, the addition of an unconstitutional law on her resume would bring up too many questions and too much bad press during her confirmation hearing.

  30. SpiralGray says:

    "Individual Freedom IS the demand of the community, not something that has to be compromised for it. There is no balance between the two: they are one and the same."

    This "I should be able to do whatever I want because it’s a free country" rhetoric just comes off as ridiculous.

    Fpr example, you are not allowed to shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater. There are two problems with allowing unfettered individual freedom…

    1. People in this country are not mature enough to take responsibility for their actions, as witnessed by the number of product liability lawsuits. If you stick a drill in your eye, don’t blame the company for not having a sticker on the device saying you shouldn’t do that.

    2. We live in a society, not a collection of individuals. Everything you do can have an impact on others. Therefore there needs to be some guidelines.

    Obviously a ridiculous example, but what if your neighbor felt it was okay to have sex with your underage daughter? Should he be allowed to based on that being his individual freedom?

  31. Vake Xeacons says:

     "The Constitution envisions a road map by which we marry passion to reason — the ideal of individual freedom to the demands of community. And the amazing thing is that it has worked."

    Individual Freedom IS the demand of the community, not something that has to be compromised for it. There is no balance between the two: they are one and the same. And if it has worked, why change it? Do we even remember what the First Amendment is all about? What would our founding fathers say if they saw America today? Would they be proud, or disgusted?

    I pray for Obama. He has a lot on his plate now, and I hope he can handle it. I didn’t vote for him, but that doesn’t matter now. The time for who shoulda-coulda-woulda won is over. Now, we need to accept our new CIC, and give him all the support we can. 

    Mr. President-to-be, remember us. Help us. And we’ll help you to change America. 


  32. Vake Xeacons says:

     Exactly. Bush failed because of the lacking conservatism in the government. Obama, on the other hand, was the most liberal voter in the Senate. That’s why he won: because of the thriving liberalism in America, community and Government alike. 


  33. Zerodash says:

    I remember when George W Bush was first elected, there were people who swore up and down that abortion would be made illegal during his first term.  I doubt that something so extreme as a full-fledged Socialist Nanny State could even be forged so readily.  The Supreme Court did make that ruling on internet porn recently, despite conservative elements in the court.

  34. BearDogg-X says:

    Wouldn’t the fact that she was born in Canada DQ her from being a Supreme Court Justice, since she’s DQ’ed from ever running for President?

    Edit: Looked it up on usconstitution.net and it says nothing about having to be born in the U.S. to be a Supreme Court Justice.

    Sounds to me like if there wasn’t a Democratic majority in Congress, this would be ripe for a Constitutional Amendment. Of course, the Republicans could filibuster Granholm(They still hung on to a few seats in the Senate to avoid a 60-seat Democratic majority).

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  35. Aliasalpha says:

    Given that she’s got a stated opinion on the subject, would she be allowed to rule on a case like that? Are there any regs requiring impartiality?

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