SCOTUS Ruling Expected Monday, Leland Yee Prepares

There is one day left on the Supreme Court’s calendar Monday, June 27, which means that it will probably rule on Brown v. EMA. For those that support and oppose the 2005 California videogame law, this means statements need to be prepared, press conferences need to be scheduled and speech writers need to have something ready to go.

The man who wrote the bill, California State Senator (and current San Francisco mayoral candidate), says he will be ready. Yee will bring an entourage with him as well including San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr as well as "doctors and child advocates" to issue responses to the Court’s ruling. The press conference will be held at the Hiram Johnson State Building foyer, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco at 9:30 AM local time.

In announcing his press conference Yee said the following:

“I am cautiously optimistic that the justices will help protect our children from the harmful effects of ultra-violent video games and provide parents a tool in raising healthy kids. Every major national medical association – including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – has concluded that exposure to violent video games causes an increase in aggressive behavior, physiological desensitization to violence, and decrease pro-social behavior and thus society has a direct, rational and compelling reason in marginally restricting a minor’s access to violent video games."

We will let you know Monday how the court rules, and we will offer views from all sides of the issues, including Yee’s.

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  1. Bigman-K says:

    Breyer seems more likely to want to uphold the law then Alito does. If any one votes for the law to be upheld, it will be him. The Chief Justice seems to think the law is to vague and overbroad right now, but a more narrowly tailored law might be constitutional in the future.

    Thomas is the odd man out here. He could be either staunchly against it, along with Scalia, or say video games in general are not free speech but conduct much like he did with an earlier cross burning case.

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

  2. digdug says:

    Im almost postive theres 5 votes to strike down this law. The reason I say almost is I dont entirely trust Scalia. He’s bad on free speech cases when when it has to do with sex or what he considers immoral, but it seems he’s ok with violence. At least thats the way it seems from the oiral arguements.

    I think Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsberg, and Kennedy are essentially a  lock to vote against the law. Scalia makes it 5.

    There’s only one definite vote for the law and thats Alito, who seems to never see a law that he thinks is unconstitutional.

    Breyer, Roberrts, and Thomas could all go either way. Breyer is an unreliable liberal on free speech cases, but is better than not. He was bad in oral arguments though. Thomas tends to favor states rights. And Roberts was bad in oral arguements too, and is very conservative, but has been good in the past in free speech cases.

    I think the odds are very good that this law is struck down. But it wont be unanimous, and it could easily be 5 to 4.

  3. Falcon4196 says:

    I have to wonder, even if (god forbid) this law came into effect.  How does it get enforced?  Do you post cops outside of stores checking the bags of kids coming out of the store?  Or are they expecting parents who didn’t care enough to go in with their kids as they’re buying the game in the first place to call the cops if they catch the kids with games afterward?

  4. Left4Dead says:

    So what you are saying is that they had their clerks go obtain Postal 2 and a bunch of other videogames in order to play them?

    If so, it might be a while longer…

    – Left4Dead

    Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

    -- Left4Dead --

  5. BearDogg-X says:

    Adding to Mr. Blond’s comment: The lower court judges(District and Court of Appeals) that struck down those 11 or 12 city ordinances/state laws over the last 10 years are in that same age range as the Justices on the Supreme Court(in fact, SCOTUS has gotten younger in recent years with four new Justices). The "Generation Gap" has pretty much been a total non-issue over the years.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra. Hell will stay frozen over for quite a while since the Saints won the Super Bowl.

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  6. Mr. Blond says:

    If you’re worried about the generation gap, remember this little tidbit about the first Internet porn case: when it was first argued, none of the Justices knew what the Internet was, and they all had to have their clerks log on and browse the porn sites for them. And they ended up striking down that law unanimously 9-0. The next case was 5-4, but still ruled unconstitutional (and an even better analogy to this case than Stevens was). If they were that adamant that sex cannot be censored in this manner, even when the law specifically banned it only as to minors as in the second case, I don’t see them ruling any differently for violence.

  7. Adamas Draconis says:

    IIRC isn’t that usually to get people to shut the hell up?


    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  8. RedMage says:

    Actually, by Paul Smith’s own testimony, the court accepts cases with no disagreement among the lower courts a full 30% of the time.  So this is nothing really new. 

  9. Neeneko says:

    Rare, but not unheard of…. and given how much time they are taking I can understand people being worried that they are making sure they have all their ducks in a row for creating a new excption like Ginsberg.

    I do not expect them to go that route, but it would not actually surprise me.

  10. Avalongod says:

    I agree.  I think a "road map" is likely and it may make things difficult in the future although:

    1.) The "Son of Brown v EMA" will likely be watered down.

    2.) The political will is gradually diminishing for this type of law and

    3.) More and more research is pouring in that the alarmist position was incorrect.

    We may see something along the lines of what happened with internet porn in 1990s…efforts to restrict access to it were gradually watered down to the point of ridiculousness.  15 years later most of the furor (except from conservative religious groups of course) over porn has died away.  Few people seriously think porn contributes to sexual violence (other than those who have made a name for themselves making such claims).

  11. Mr. Blond says:

    When there are 11 such unanimous rulings, the Court does not grant certiorari in the first place. That’s one reason why I’m nervous. And if they are creating a "road map" as some expect (likely if Roberts is writing the decision), we’ll have even more trouble fighting against "Son of Brown v. EMA."

  12. Zerodash says:

    I really hope that I turn out to be wrong and am would love to be embarrassed on Monday.  

    I just don’t trust the court or the generation gap in a culture of fear. Plus, Yee is a well-spoken and skillful bullshit craftsman, and the games industry has never been as "all hands on deck" with this issue as they should have been.

  13. Avalongod says:

    I worry about that too…it’s one possible scenario.

    I know there has been a lot of speculation on the delay.  I was feeling pretty optimistic before the delay became apparent…I’ve grown nervous sense.  Obviously we can’t really know what the issue is or what the final ruling will be.

    That said, as a non-lawyer, if I had to read the tea leaves what I *most* suspect may have happened is: I think the majority of judges likely decided to strike down the Cali law as it is written, but perhaps provide a "road map" for a potentially Constitutional law that could be created down the line.  However, my suspicion is that, in trying to create such a road map, the judges have run into numerous problems and discovered how difficult that is, while keeping it narrow and not opening the door to a lot of other legislation.  I suspect the delay, then, may be disagreements among the judges about this "road map" perhaps with shifting alliances over time.

    What the outcome would be of all this, I don’t know.  I think if SCOTUS wanted to uphold the law as is, that wouldn’t require all this time, which is good news.  But, as I sad, that’s a non-expert "read" of this, and of course we’ll see Monday I hope.

  14. Sidsavage says:

    I’m aware the Supreme Court usually saves the big cases for last but who’s to say they are not using all this time to create new exceptions to the 1st amendment based on obscene aspects of violence?  It feels like there just stringing us along to knock the video game industry down.

  15. Vake Xeacons says:

    Oh, there is no doubt there IS something wrong with our justice system. I just hope it stays intact long enough to rule in our favor.

  16. Slipperman says:

    All I can say is, If the SCOTUS rules in favor of Yee and against the EMA after having ruled that those creeps from the Westboro Baptist Church are protected under the First Amendment, then there’s something seriously wrong with our justice system. 

  17. Shahab says:

    Leland Yee is a disgusting attention whore of a politician who has throughout his career demonstrated that he puts votes above the common good every time. I’ve lived in California a long time now and even though I usually vote Democratic I never support Yee.

  18. Vake Xeacons says:

    People, do not sit back and expect a fair ruling! We hope for the best but this is it!

    As a parent, a gamer, and a proud member of the ECA, I encourage you! This is our last chance to raise our voices and tell Yee to leave our children, our games, and our Constitution ALONE!

    Do not remain silent!

  19. Craig R. says:

    One can only hope Yee pulls a muscle from attempting to pat himself on the back so much.

  20. E. Zachary Knight says:

    I look forward to Yee’s depressing realization that trying to censor speech is never going to work. Since he has surrounded himself with yesmen I doubt this press conference will have a lot of substantial difference following either possible ruling.

    If the court rules against the EMA (a very unlikely scenario), Yee will pat himself on the back and talk about how he is protecting kids.

    If the courts rules with the EMA (the most likely scenario), Yee will complain about activist judges and talk about how he was trying to protect kids.

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  21. RedMage says:

    1.  He doesn’t have one.

    2.  He can’t.

    Trust me, if Yee’s best expectation is that the Court will provide "guidance" on how to legally censor video games, which Yee conceded are speech through his lawyer in the oral arguments, we don’t have anything to worry about.  Briefs, prepardness, performance during the oral arguments, research, precedent, absolutely everything in the world is on the side of the EMA.  Yee’s response?  That he’s "hopeful" for a favorable verdict.  Hope doesn’t win you legal cases.

  22. Zerodash says:

    1) What is Yee’s response to the demonstrable decrease in violent crime in the US as videogames became more popular?

    2) How does Yee justify having such a press conference with a clavacade of advocates at his side as NOT being merely a tool for political gain?


    As I have stated numerous times here, I expect the SCOTUS to rule against the EMA (yes, this is a minority opinion, and arguing it now is moot), but I’m still skeptical of how much goodwill such legislation will help Yee’s political ambition.  He may very well find that the current political climate is currently more about economics, gay rights, and women’s health access than it is censorship.  

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