Obama Circuit Court Nominee Issued 2000 Ruling Upholding Video Game Legislation

While an overwhelming majority of federal court judges have found state and local laws restricting video games to be unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge David Hamilton is an exception. In 2000, Hamilton ruled in favor of an Indianapolis law which would have barred unaccompanied minors from playing violent games in coin-op arcades.

Hamilton’s eight-year-old opinion in American Amusement Machine vs. Kendrick, while subsequently overturned by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court, could once again be a source of concern to the video game industry.

The Associated Press is reporting that President Barack Obama has nominated Hamilton for an opening on the 7th Circuit, which covers appeals arising from federal district courts in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. From the AP:

Obama on Tuesday nominated [Hamilton] to serve on [the 7th Circuit], his first act in reshaping the federal judiciary and preparing for a possible Supreme Court opening…

 

Three of the appeals courts [including the 7th] can gain a majority of Democratic-appointed judges if Obama’s nominees are confirmed for existing vacancies…

 

The White House acted before Hamilton’s nomination to make sure that his home-state Republican senator, Dick Lugar, was on board… Lugar’s support for Hamilton would make it difficult for Republicans to filibuster his nomination…

 

The American Bar Association gave Hamilton a "well qualified" rating…

GP: As a practical matter, the chances of video game legislation reaching the 7th Circuit any time soon seem slim. Illinois, burned financially by disgraced ex-Guv Rod Blagojevich’s 2005 video game law, is unlikely to try again. That leaves only Indiana and Wisconsin. While both have dabbled with legislative proposals aimed at video games in recent years, neither has gotten very far with such proposals.

Moreover, the 7th Circuit already has a precedent-setting video game case in the Kendrick ruling.

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