With U.S. Supreme Court Appeal Deadline Approaching, What Will California Do?

The Sacramento Bee laments the big bucks paid out by California to reimburse the video game industry’s legal costs in fighting the state’s 2005 video game law, and wonders if there are more expenses to come.

The video game measure, proposed by State Sen. Leland Yee (D) and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been – so far – held to be unconstitutional by the federal courts. The Bee notes that the tally of California’s payments to the video game industry now exceeds $382,000. That figure does not include the state’s costs for its own legal team.

The crucial question – which must be decided by May 20th – is whether California will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Adam Keigwin, Yee’s chief of staff, commented on the pending decision:

That would be a small price to pay to save children and to give parents a tool. At what cost do you stop doing what you think is right?

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  1. sortableturnip says:

    They don’t care how much money it takes, the government knows that all they have to do is raise taxes and it’s covered…

  2. JDKJ says:

    Completely off-topic, but I am reminded of the time the D.C. District Council and the District went into a three-day furor because a white official accused a black official of being "niggardly."

  3. Stoli says:

    It is NOT the government’s job to be a nanny or a parent. We have the ESRB that informs parents of the contents of the game. It’s up to the parent to decide if the game is okay for their child.

    This just smacks of trying to overdo something to show that they "care". "Look at me! There’s already a rating system that parents can use, but we’ll go even further and try and be the parents for all children!"

    You’re an enemy of the First Amendment, Mr. Yee.

  4. Andrew Eisen says:

    "That would be a small price to pay to save children and to give parents a tool."

    Except for that niggling little fact that this law won’t save children (nothing to save them from, after all) and is less of a tool and more of an excuse for crap parents to pay even less attention to their kids.

    "At what cost do you stop doing what you think is right?"

    That depends on how much repeatedly being proven wrong is worth.


    Andrew Eisen

  5. Beacon80 says:

    "That would be a small price to pay to save children and to give parents a tool."

    Yes, it would be a small price to save children.  However, it’s a large price to pay to do absolutely nothing, which is what this will do.  Even ignoring the fact that the bill would accomplish nothing if it was passed, there’s the simple fact that it won’t.  All this appeal will do is land us right where we started, but another .3M short.

  6. hellfire7885 says:

    "That would be a small price to pay to save children and to give parents a tool. At what cost do you stop doing what you think is right?"

    Why don’t your try asking the people who will be paying for it, as that is sure as hell not you.

  7. Baruch_S says:

    Give it some time. People will find something else to freak out about, and politicians will change their tune when people who grew up playing video games make up 70%+ percent of the voting population.

  8. Baruch_S says:

    At what cost do you stop doing what you think is right?

    Maybe it’s just me, but don’t you stop once you’ve been shot down multiple times because what you’re trying to do is illegal? Persistence is only a virtue when you actually have a chance of succeeding; otherwise it’s called stupidity.

  9. Cheater87 says:

    I have a feeling they will never stop trying to censor video games. If they did parents would not be happy. I wish the Supreme Court would just tell them that video games are free speech.

  10. JDKJ says:

    Because reasonable minds can differ, I’ll do the reasonable thing and differ.

    The theory that free speech functions as a "safety valve" for a society, without which certain veiwpoints, if suppressed, would merely continue to enjoy discourse underground, where they could fester and breed discontent and malcontents and, therefore, forment destabalizing elements within a society doesn’t, I believe, bear much relevance to obscene speech.

    As Justice Brandeis noted in Whitney, it is society’s precieved "grievances" and proposed "remedies" which are in need of free and open discourse in order to avoid the creation of forces of revolt. Is any speech which would pass Miller‘s obscenity test the sort of speech which involves societal grievances and remedies and which, if suppressed, would lead to insurrection? I’d think that because obscenity holds such little value as a subject of public discourse and, as Miller held, appeals mostly to our purient interests only, it isn’t the sort of speech which is likely to create discontent and malcontents if suppressed and, therefore, forment destabalizing elements within society. I would assume that not enough of the society values obscenity enough for that to even be a remote possibility. 

  11. Liz Surette says:

    If the work, taken as a whole, has serious artistic value then it’s not obscene.

    But to answer your question about why someone would think a work that is obscene should be protected even though it lacks value for the political process, the self-fulfillment and safety valve rationales still hold up.


  12. JDKJ says:

    If the speech has value as artistic expression, wouldn’t it fail Miller, which defines obscenity as, among other things, speech lacking any artistic value?

    And let’s bear in mind that the original intent of the Framers was to give Gaming Observer something about which to beat his gums together.

  13. Liz Surette says:

    Speech cannot be banned simply because it is subjectively offensive. Obscenity is unprotected because it has no value in the exchange of ideas (like fighting words–you’re not protected by the First Amendment if you call someone’s mother a whore to their face for example). However, obscenity is also unprotected because there is a presumption of sorts that it is harmful to children and unwilling audiences, even though violence has never carried that status and hopefully never will. This presumption has existed for hundreds of years, and it was only fairly recently that the Court acknowledged that sexually explicit material may warrant protection in some instances, hence the Miller standard.

    To JDKJ, there are other reasons why certain speech is protected that could give rise to the argument that obscenity should be as well. A student of the First Amendment is well aware of the "safety valve" rationale, as well as the value of artistic expression. Reasonable minds could differ.


  14. Bigman-K says:

    Obscene Speech is banned solely under the basis of offensiveness. It is my view that the state has no business barring Speech solely under the basis that it is offensive. Obscenity laws are the most rediculous exemption to the First Amentment. As for the belief that it serves no useful purpose, well, what is trash with no merit to some may be treasure to others. Many video games, movies and books contain nothing in the way of political ideas yet are still protected speech. People may be able to gain some idea, information, message, viewpoint or opinion from viewing, listening or reading it.

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

  15. JDKJ says:

    That’s unlikely. Miller sets forth a multi-part set of requirements which must be met in order to deem a particular sort of speech obscene. The authorities can’t just say, "It’s obscene because I say it’s obscene." They have to actually demonstrate how it passes the Miller test.

  16. NovaBlack says:

    ‘That would be a small price to pay to save children and to give parents a tool. At what cost do you stop doing what you think is right?’

    You stop when you take a step back to look at the bigger picture, realise that perhaps everybody criticising you deserves to have their reasoning examined, realise you are in the wrong, and realise that the parents already have a tool (game ratings already on the boxes) to ‘protect them’.

    Oh and then you realise that  $382,000 you just wasted could have done an awful lot to advertise game ratings and improve awareness.

  17. Vake Xeacons says:

    At what cost, you ask? I would risk prison, humiliation, and even execution for what I believe in. That’s why I will fight Schwartzeneggar to the death.

  18. Werrick says:

    "That would be a small price to pay to save children and to give parents a tool. At what cost do you stop doing what you think is right?"


    Hmm… I don’t know, how about after you and your cronies have been told half a dozen times by various courts, including the SCOTUS that this kind of legislation is against your own constitution? That work for you?


  19. GoodRobotUs says:

    Parents already have a tool.

    He’s called Leland Yee.


    Besides, I wonder if the price would be so ‘small’ if it wasn’t other people’s money they were spending?

  20. JDKJ says:

    It’s the "resembling that legislation" part of your suggestion with which idiots like Jack "I’ll Just Re-Cast My Old Law As a New ‘Truth in Advertising’ Law" Thompson will have a field day.

  21. Aliasalpha says:

    If there’s ANYTHING that needs a ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ rule its endlessly repeated legislation like this. 3 failed attempts should disqualify anything resembling that legislation from being passed for 5 years.


  22. DeusPayne says:

    There is an even simpler answer to that question. When what you think is right has been deemed time and time again as unconstitutional. 

  23. JDKJ says:

    "At what cost do you stop doing what you think is right?" — Adam Keigwin

    Mr. Keigwin asks the wrong question. The better question is: At what point do you stop incurring costs by doing what you think is right? The answer is simple: The point at which your costs exceed any benefits which may inur from doing what you think is right. And the State of California passed that point a long time ago.

  24. JDKJ says:

    Why do you think that obscene speech as defined by Miller should receive constitutional protection? Obscene speech serves no useful purpose in the exchange of political ideas. How is the political process weakened by its absence?   

  25. chadachada321 says:

    The problem is that this law will not save children, nor will it give parents a tool that doesn’t already exist. Parents already have the ability to know exactly what is in every game that they buy or allow their children to buy, and have the ability to block certain ratings from every new major system that exists today. Not only that, many retailers voluntarily follow the ESRB ratings, which are proudly displayed on front and back of every video game sold now, negating the need for other types of stickers. Requiring stickers that say "18" on it is compelled speech, which is unconstitutional. Not only that, it is hypocritical to want to require these on video games but not DVDs and CDs that could be inappropriate to minors. Besides, how does one determine what is or is not appropriate for minors? The description given in the bill is unconstitutionally vague, and doesn’t meet up to the standards set by the Miller case is determining what is or is not protected speech. Like the district court judge said, just because a person is under the age of 18 does not mean that they do not have any rights concerning their exposure to other’s speech.

    I could go on and on, but this is a summation of the opinions that I’ve seen represented here before. I would like to say that I disagree with the Miller case, and that I think basically all free speech is fine and dandy, but from a legal standpoint in today’s American politics, that is what we must go on.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  26. BearDogg-X says:

    For a state that’s had trouble with its budget for years, $382,000 is not chump change, as that idiot Keigwin would have everyone think otherwise. Illinois had to pay close to $511,000 in legal fees for their bill championed by a corrupt governor who was impeached earlier this year.

    And besides that, thinking you’re "right" while ignoring the cold hard fact that they’ve been proven wrong numerous times by the courts and by opposing research shows Keigwin and Yee to be delusional.

    If California had any brains, they’d give up while they’re way behind since there’s no guarantee that the Supreme Court will even hear the appeal and it’s a long shot since the Supreme Court only hears 2% of all the cases that come before them.

    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)

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