Duke Journal Analysis: Schwarzenegger v.EMA

February 10, 2011 -

The Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy offers an exhaustive analysis of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association in an article called "The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association."

Beatrice M. Hahn dissects every aspect of the case - from the positions of both sides and the lack of data supporting the state's case, to free speech issues and the definition of obscenity. While the lengthy review of the case is interesting, readers will be more fascinated with the conclusions: the Supreme Court will probably rule against California's 2005 video game law.

From the last three paragraphs of the article:

"Nearly all of the analysis by the State and EMA revolved around standards of review, but the Court resurrected the issue of vagueness during oral arguments. The justices turned their attentions to how video game developers and distributors will struggle with interpreting the statute in order to comply with it. The language describing the types of games covered by the law (such as "deviant") are not easy to define, and it is unclear how the legislature differentiated video games from other media to limit the Act from reaching violent material in other formats. Distinguishing different levels of violence, which is necessary as only certain "offensively violent: content would be subject to regulation, is even more problematic. Video game manufacturers would also struggle with defining their audience, particularly with regard to age subgroups of minors, each of which could be more or less susceptible to negative influences than the other. These issues merit the Court’s attention, despite the lower courts’ neglect of the vagueness issue. It is therefore possible that the constitutionality of the statute will be decided on due process grounds, rather than clarifying how violent subject matter, transmitted in new forms of media, will be regulated. It would not be the first time that the Court has offered a narrow ruling with limited applicability.

If the Court does not invalidate the Act on vagueness grounds, a majority of the Court is likely to rely heavily on Stevens to find that violent video games are a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Stevens demonstrates the Court’s unwillingness to create a carve-out for violent speech. The statute at issue was struck down by an 8-to-1 majority of the Roberts Court, and the justices in that majority probably will invalidate the Act here on similar grounds. The Roberts Court likely will not apply a softened standard of review to a content-based speech regulation of any medium.

There is a "history in this country of new mediums coming along and people vastly overreacting to them, thinking the sky is falling, [and that] our children are all going to be turned into criminals." Today’s objection to video games’ conveyance of violent speech and effort to curtail minors' access "springs largely from the neophobia that has pitted the old against the entertainment of the young for centuries." As long as the Court is not diverted entirely by the vagueness question, Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association may settle the debate over depictions of violence that would otherwise arise repeatedly with the development of new media and vehicles of expression."


Comments

Re: Duke Journal Analysis: Schwarzenegger v.EMA

If only there was a way to sit in on that trial and play GTA on a PSP in the back. It'd be awesome.

-Austin from Oregon

Feel free to check out my blog.

Re: Duke Journal Analysis: Schwarzenegger v.EMA

They've already got clerks playing Mortal Kombat...

Re: Duke Journal Analysis: Schwarzenegger v.EMA

You know what ? A couple of weeks ago, I actually DREAMT that the Supreme Court would actually approve this California Law

This being said, I also dreamt that I was thrown in jail, so...

 

 
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E. Zachary KnightWonder, I know you can revise content and resubmit it, but I can't findany information about a formal appeals process.05/28/2015 - 7:27pm
Wonderkarpever wonder if there's an appeals process for AO?05/28/2015 - 6:55pm
Matthew WilsonDanny and Andy play the first couple of levels of the upcoming Hatred http://www.gamespot.com/videos/hatred-gamespot-plays/2300-6425016/ imho it does not look like it should be AO.05/28/2015 - 5:57pm
Andrew EisenHey, remember Kung Fury? That short film that was funded via Kickstarter a few years ago? You can watch it now. I suggest you do. It's fun! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS5P_LAqiVg05/28/2015 - 5:14pm
Goth_SkunkOriginally, yes. Some content was cut out in order to reduce its ratign from AO down to M, but PC users could work around that an unlock the full content by means of a patch. Which is what I did. :D05/28/2015 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenKarp - Yes, for strong sexual content. Although the recent remaster contains all that content and was rated M.05/28/2015 - 3:54pm
Andrew EisenDepends on if you consider Hatred misrated. I haven't played the game or seen the ESRB's rating summary so I'm undecided.05/28/2015 - 3:53pm
WonderkarpDidnt Fahrenheit have an AO?05/28/2015 - 3:52pm
Matthew Wilson@AE that is why I said it seems more moral panic to me.05/28/2015 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - From what I've seen (just the trailers) the game is nowhere near as gory as many, many other games. But again, I'm guessing the AO rating comes from theme and tone rather than outright gore.05/28/2015 - 3:50pm
Andrew EisenKarp - It didn't show penetration or nudity.05/28/2015 - 3:50pm
WonderkarpI'd say Mortal Kombat X has more Gore and Violence than Hatred.05/28/2015 - 3:50pm
Matthew Wilsonwhat I mean by worse in this case its not more gory/violent than others.05/28/2015 - 3:48pm
WonderkarpI forget....did Hot Coffee actually show Penetration?05/28/2015 - 3:48pm
Andrew EisenKarp - The Skyrim mods are external mods. The Hot Coffee mod unlocked content on the disc. Big difference. Still, the content that was unlocked was still perfectly in line with an M rating in my opinion.05/28/2015 - 3:47pm
Andrew EisenThemes are factored into ratings, not just mechanics. Still waiting for ESRB's rating summary. Very curious to see what it has to say.05/28/2015 - 3:46pm
Matthew WilsonHatred is a top down shooter though, and isnt any worse than other top down shooters?05/28/2015 - 3:45pm
Wonderkarpyeah, San Andreases rerating was ridiculous. Why not rerate Skyrim with all its crazy sex mods out there? But yeah, ESRB is good as policing itself. 05/28/2015 - 3:45pm
Andrew EisenManhunt 2 and Hatred though? Eh, there's an argument to be made for the higher rating.05/28/2015 - 3:43pm
Andrew EisenRerating San Andreas was a mistake though. That seemed to be the result of kowtowing to public pressure.05/28/2015 - 3:42pm
 

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