EMA v. Schwarzenegger Back on SCOTUS Radar

The nation’s highest court will gather this Friday in order to discuss, among other things, whether or not it should review a California law preventing the sale of violent videogames to children.

The Supreme Court’s website shows that Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) v. Schwarzenegger was “distributed for conference of April 23, 2010.” The order was dated April 20, 2010, giving more credence to popular thought that case number 08-1448 was shelved until a decision was reached on the First Amendment case of United States v. Stevens, in which the Court voted 8-1 that the government cannot outlaw expressions of animal cruelty.

The similarities between this case and EMA v. Schwarzenegger revolve around legal restrictions over depictions of violence.

If SCOTUS grants a writ of certiorari (judicial review) to EMA v. Schwarzenegger, the law, which was deemed unconstitutional by a U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in February of 2009, would be fully reviewed by the Supreme Court.

California State Senator Leland Yee (D), who originally sponsored the bill/law, stated, “I believe the high court will uphold this law as Constitutional.” He added, “I am hopeful that the Supreme Court – which has never heard a case dealing with violent video games – will accept our appeal and assist parents in keeping these harmful video games out of the hands of children.“

Yee’s office issued a statement on the matter, in which the link between United States v. Stevens and EMA v. Schwarzenegger was downplayed:

This week, the high court struck down a law, in United States v. Stevens, that attempted to ban the sale of media that depicts animal cruelty, however, the Court said that such a law may be constitutional if it were more narrowly tailored.  California’s violent video game is narrowly tailored and focuses only on the sale of ultra-violent video games to children, whereas the Stevens case banned the sale of animal cruelty films to all individuals.  In addition, California’s law is dealing with an interactive media versus a passive media in the animal cruelty case.

On the other hand, over at Games Law, Liz Surette authored an extremely detailed piece explaining why she believes the Stevens case will impact the EMA case stating:

…the statute at issue in EMA v. Schwarzenegger is analogous to the one in US v. Stevens and will probably be stricken down because the Court is loathe to create new categories of unprotected speech except in very extreme circumstances.

Schwarzenegger also weighed in, saying, “I will continue to vigorously defend this law and protect the well-being of California’s kids.”

A SCOTUS decision on the matter should emerge Monday morning.

Thanks to nightwng2000 for the original head’s up!

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