Read California’s Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

California’s petition to the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari in regard to its 2005 video game law is now available online.

The petition asks the Court to consider two key questions:

1. Does the First Amendment bar a state from restricting the sale of violent video games to minors?

2. If the First Amendment applies to violent video games that are sold to minors, and the standard of review is strict scrutiny, under Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. F.C.C., 512 U.S. 622, 666 (1994), is the state required to demonstrate a direct causal link between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors before the state can prohibit the sale of the games to minors?

Grab your copy here (PDF).

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  1. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    Exactly, this appeal attempts to brand all games that recieve the M rating as another Postal or GTA or Manhunt, it’s like saying that every Mature rated movie is Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there are movies out there that contain extremely deep social commentary, and are rated Mature, same for Video Games, to lump them all into the same basket and ask for them to be judged by the least ‘socially acceptable’ games is completely out of order.

    It’s kind of like saying that every politician is Spitzer, they all hire prostitutes, it’s obvious, after all, if one politician does it, they all must…

  2. 0
    Wormdundee says:

     You make some really good points, and in regards to the last one, I have a question.

    4)   No essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to the truth

    How would one go about proving the social value of some arbitrary videogame/movie/painting/sculpture/etc.? I don’t even see how this is a valid test for determining if something should be restricted or banned. It seems far too subjective. How is a painting of a blue square an essential part of exposition of ideas? It just sounds completely nonsensical.

    I’m sure someone would be able to come up with some social value for the blue square painting, just the same as someone being able to come up with some social value for Postal.

    Hell, I guess we should ban all the action movies, that’s basically what a lot of videogames are.

  3. 0
    saregos says:

    A few interesting things in reading the petition (I suppose that technically I’m reading the laws behind it).  I’ll be curious if they actually address these.

    1)  the State did not demonstrate that parental controls available on some new versions of gaming consoles would be less effective.

    2)  The court of appeals also affirmed the district court’s finding that, even assuming a direct causal connection had been shown, the Act was not the least restrictive means of preventing the identified harm to minors.  

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems their petition completely ignores this part of the lower court findings, and the above finding is likewise unmentioned in the actual petition, but rather is mentioned only in the case history.  If memory serves, the availability of parental controls for TVs was a significant step in why most TV is unregulated by the gov’t, but now they’re arguing, or at least implying, that parental controls are ineffective or irrelevant to the issue of regulation.  That seems like a rather slippery slope.

    3)   Like other forms of unprotected speech recognized to date

    … When have video games actually been recognized, in a court of law, as unprotected speech?

    4)   No essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to the truth  

    That’s a remarkably narrow viewpoint…  I’ll concede that games such as Postal (which is one of the ones cited in their research, I believe) have no real societal benefit, but that doesn’t mean that none of them do.  In fact, there are several games (offhand, Portal seems to be the best example, even though it’s non-violent and therefore not attacked here) which provide remarkable insights into otherwise extraordinarily dense concepts.  In fact, this makes me wonder just how many games this act would really restrict… How many games are there which can be classified under this definition?  Other than the aforementioned Postal (which I haven’t actually played, so feel free to correct me) I can’t think of any this argument really applies to.

    — Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known


    Edit:  Sorry for the wall of text.

  4. 0
    DeusPayne says:

    Not at all. While completely misguided, it was based on fear of communism. And that somehow, In God We Trust would act as a deterrent against it, and ward off all the evil mystical communism cooties. Completely bogus, but not quite "because we want to". Moreover, there’s arguments that ‘God’ is ambiguous, so it’s not endorcing any specific religion. And then if you want to go a step further, they can just be saying ‘God’ as a general term. "Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise," was the ruling when that was challenged as unconstitutional.

  5. 0
    strathmeyer says:

    I don’t know, wasn’t that that Supreme Court’s reasoning when they ruled that "In God We Trust" wasn’t a religious phrase, et al.?

  6. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Lee and Arnie obviously think so.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  7. 0
    Father Time says:

    "Moreover, there’s arguments that ‘God’ is ambiguous, so it’s not endorcing any specific religion."

    As far as I know the only god that got dubbed ‘God’ was the Judeau-Christian god. Every other god had a name attached (Allah, Vishnu, Zeus, Osiris etc.)

    But even without that it still embraces theism.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  8. 0
    CopyOwner says:

    The "questions presented" demonstrates a basically dishonest presentation of the case, as does the press release. They focus on whether the First Amendment gives a right to sell a game to a minor against the state government’s wishes, and ignore the fact that their law would have just as surely prohibited minors from buying a game against their wishes. The First Amendment contains no age limitation.

    As for harm, if they were to win on question #2, it should send chills down the spines of those who cherish other freedoms, such as freedom of religion and freedom of thought. History is replete with teachings that "harm" children more than a video game ever did — speech teaching a child to become a racist, speech teaching a child to adopt harmful religious-based beliefs such as refusing medical treatment, speech encouraging a child to join the armed forces, speech teaching children that abstinence is enough and any other birth control is bad, speech that teaches a child to vote Republican when they grow up, and (just in case you didn’t know where I was going), speech that half the nation may consider harmful to a child and the other half considers essential for the child’s wellbeing.

  9. 0
    DeusPayne says:

    It’s not exactly rocket science. It’s very very basic constitutional law, that anyone, let alone politicians, should be familiar with. Do they really think ‘because we want to’ is enough reason to break the most fundamental building blocks of our legal system?

  10. 0
    BearDogg-X says:

    I can already answer the dumbasses’ questions for them:

    1) Yes.

    2) Yes. You are directly contradicting a Constitutional amendment, therefore you need absolute proof that the speech in question is "harmful". Never been done and never will be.

    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(0-3), LSU(3-0)

  11. 0
    Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Well, this is going to be interesting.


    "The sun will always rise tomorrow. We can only live for today, and hope more days will come." -Unknown

  12. 0
    Father Time says:

    You know I haven’t heard talk of game legislation in a long while, I thought we were finished. It looks like we aren’t though but only because my state is bringing it to the Supreme Court.

    If CA wins we can expect a victory dance by JT, and new legislation popping up all over.

    If they lose it would be great but I can’t help but think some states will still try and just claim "we have more conclusive evidence than CA did at the time" although a negative Supreme Court ruling will likely discourage states from trying and definitely be precedent circuit courts would have to consider.

    If they refuse to hear the case, the unconstitutional ruling stands on the CA law and we’re back to waiting which next state will pop up with a similar bill, if any.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

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