Constitution Day Bonus! Oklahoma Video Game Law Ruled Unconstitutional

September 17, 2007 -

cauthron.jpgAccording to the ESA, a federal court judge has issued a permanent injunction against Oklahoma's 2006 video game law.

Here (20-page pdf) is the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Robin Cauthron (left).

Mark Methenitis has a legal analysis at the Law of the Game.

Meanwhile, we have reaction from Bo Andersen, president of the Entertainment Merchants Association:


 

It is fitting that this ruling was issued on Constitution Day... The decision is a ringing affirmation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression. 


 

Judge Cauthron’s opinion makes abundantly clear that the Oklahoma legislature overreached in attempting to restrict the distribution of video games containing fantasy violence to minors, in part because there was no evidence that the games are harmful to anyone. The judge also correctly noted that there is no way for an ordinary person to determine which games were covered by the Oklahoma law and which were not.


 

It is time for lawmakers to stop targeting video games and the retailers that sell them. They should recognize that all video games are rated, retailers are choosing to enforce the ratings in their stores, and the new PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 video game consoles and Vista computer operating system all allow parents to control the types of games that can be played on them. These voluntary steps, not government regulation, are true to the spirit of the American Constitution... 

 


Comments

I hope Yee and the Governator are reading Judge Caurthron's ruling.

Bo Andersen's third paragraph speaks volumes.

Its about freakin' time. I was wondering if there was going to be a ruling soon.

Some of my favorite parts:

"the presence of increased viewer control and interactivity does not remove these games from the realm of First Amendment protection."

"whether the Court “believe[s] the advent of violent video games adds anything of value to society is irrelevant,” because they are just as entitled to First Amendment protection as is the finest literature."

"The fact that Defendants are attempting to regulate the flow of information to minors, rather than to adults, does not render the values protected by the First Amendment any less applicable."

"To the best of the Court’s knowledge, the Supreme Court has not suggest[ed]that the government’s role in helping parents to be the guardians of their children’s well-being is an unbridled license to governments to regulate what minors read and view.”

"Nothing submitted by Defendants shows that the “advocacy” in violent video games is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action, or that it is likely to do so."

"When the Government defends a regulation on speech as a
means to . . . prevent anticipated harms, it must do more than
simply “posit the existence of the disease sought to be cured.”
It must demonstrate that the recited harms are real, not merely
conjectural, and that the regulation will in fact alleviate these
harms in a direct and material way. . . .
Turner Broad. Sys., Inc. v. F.C.C., 512 U.S. 622, 664-65, 114
S.Ct. 2445, 129 L.Ed.2d 497 (1994). If the state is able to show
that the psychological well-being of [its] youth is in genuine
jeopardy, it has the additional burden of showing that the
regulation is narrowly tailored to address that problem without
unnecessarily interfering with First Amendment freedoms."

"The First Amendment does not allow prohibitions
based on “common sense.”"

How more fitting on the day we celebrate the greatest document in history that this happens.

HOOAH! We win!

Paul Farinelli, Long Distance Runner, and you're not.

SCORE 9-0!!!

and 1st post

We all knew it'd happen, again

Daddy what with all these tree stumps

Well son see back when Daddy was younger, the goverment thought it was best to try to banned video games and these stumps are from the trees they had to cut down to make the paper to write the bills on. Luckly they always failed

They must have really failed a lot Daddy.

Yep XXX-0 son, all in the name of great justice

Damn what a bunch of fucking nubs

Indeed son

a good day for the Constitution.

Score another point for gamers!

If they keep this up, they're eventually going to have to form new states, to make more failed video game bills for.

Well said Trowa.

But would noobs become nubs in the future? And would the word fuck finally become acceptable? *can see both happen, given how messed up the English language is*

The 1st Amendment prevails again in the land of the free and the home of the brave. With Liberty and Justice for all.

And another one for Parental Rights over tin-pot-dictator-wannabes.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software

For a legal document it was actually entertaining to read XD

Oh say can you see...

Yay, Another bill bites the dust!



We don't need no, Regulation!
We don't need no thought control!
Hey politicians, leave those games alone!
Al in all it's just another, Unconstitutional law!

Common sense prevails again.

To quote JBJT, Hooah!

Some of this is too good to pass up:

"Plaintiffs now have filed a motion for summary judgment ... to invalidate the Act as an unconstitutional violation of free speech under the First Amendment, and as unconstitutionally vague under the Fourteenth
Amendment.

As of this date, the Court is unable to find a case where a similar restriction has passed constitutional muster. "

it goes on to list eight other precedent-setting cases that failed to show that violating people's 1st amendment rights was acceptable for such a law.


"Defendants claim that the Court could not “impanel a group of responsible adults who could view these ‘games’ and conclude they are suitable for children.” Having viewed the portions of three games submitted by Defendants, the Court is inclined to agree. Whether the games are “suitable,” however, is not the applicable standard for the propriety of the government placing a content-based restriction on dissemination of protected speech, even dissemination to minors."

So they probably showed them scenes from Postal, GTA, and Manhunt. Yeah those games are not for kids. But they are still protected speech.

"The fact that Defendants are attempting to regulate the flow of information to minors, rather than to adults, does not render the values protected by the First Amendment any less applicable."

I like the part where the judge tears down their argument that "Because a public Library in Alabama was able to censor their content to shield minors, we should be able to apply the same logic to retailers."

The pwnage continues:

"There is no support in the record, let alone “substantial evidence,” for Defendants’ conclusion that allowing dissemination of violent video games to minors is harmful to those minors or any others.
Beyond Defendants’ generalized statements, there is a complete dearth of legislative findings, scientific studies, or other rationale in the record to support the passage of the Defendants’ argument that “common sense” dictates that playing violent video games “is not good for children,” and that the onus is on Plaintiffs to prove otherwise, completely fails. The First Amendment does not allow prohibitions based on “common sense.”

Oooh somebody tell that to Leeland Yee! His law is "common sense" or so he claims.

"And as much as Defendants may wish otherwise, Plaintiffs are not
required to present a study showing that the video games “are good for children.”

I love Judicial barbs and burns, it's the main reason I read these things.

"Even presuming that Defendants could demonstrate a compelling state interest, Defendants fail to make the required showing that the Act is narrowly tailored to materially advance that interest without unnecessarily interfering with First Amendment freedoms."

And yet they keep on trying (and wasting OUR money)

"In support of their argument that the Act is narrowly tailored, Defendants make several claims that are highly misleading"
"Defendants’ argument regarding the Act’s purpose of supporting parents’ claim to authority also is defeated by the broad scope of the Act."
"the language of the Act undermines Defendants’ argument that the Act would assist parents, because the Act in reality would serve to punish parents who choose to disseminate materials to a minor that describe, exhibit, present, or represent “inappropriate violence.”

But... But... it's a "common sense" law! For the parents! I mean children!

Unconstitutional. FAIL. But good luck, Governator. Although if you lose at the Supreme Court level... "You won't be back."

Thank you to the Honorary Robin Cauthron for defending our nation's Constitution.

Pwnd.

Thank you GameClucks for that lovely post :) .

I think this line was what did it for me - "Beyond Defendants’ generalized statements, there is a complete dearth of legislative findings, scientific studies, or other rationale in the record to support the passage of the Act."

"Generalized statements?" What, is Jack Thompson one of the defendants?

w00t!

Will they ever learn?

Yay for the constitution!

*Looks at pdf file* tl'dr oh and w00t we win again!!!!!!!!

*jumps up and down*
*screams a lot*
*shows obscene gesture to Yee and Thompson*
*gets thrown in jail*
Well that was fun to read. A perfect victory on the perfect day.

if you read the "Law of the Game"

the law makers argued that "common sense says games are bad" and that it was on the game industry to prove otherwise was ridiculus

that would mean that the state could pass any law on anything and that it was up to the people it effects to prove it's wrong.

people should demand more from their legislators
and by more i mean a basic understanding of jurisprudence and the constitution not to mention sticking with the oath they took when entering office to uphold the constitution

We Are The Champions
We Are The Champions
No Time For Losers
Because We Are The Champions Of The World

Survey Says.......

One more for the good guys!

And que tangential or cliche JT rebuttal.....NOW!

I love this country...

Take that Parents Television Council!

My favorite part is this:
The First Amendment does not allow prohibitions based on “common sense.”

That is going to be my response to anyone trying to ban anything from now on...

*plays the 1812 overture*
awesome. bleedin' awesome. gamers win again.

Mm, it's the kind of thing you want to wake up, take a big whiff of, and dance happy through the day. Kind of like pancakes in the morning!

Hip hip hooray!

Beautiful.

I don't even think dickless will bother to post on this one.

A great end to a great day.

So which approach will Jacko take, "I knew it was unconstitutional because they didn't ask me to help write it" or "The judge is corrupt and doesn't know the First Amendment?" I'm betting on the first one.

Great! But just for the sake of complaining, the way video games were talked about in the report (mostly quotations) was far from flattering. "Intricate but obnoxious"... That's more than a little insulting. Is the plot of Bioshock "obnoxious?" I think its been established that none of these game laws have any chance of survival. The next step for gamers and the industry is to convince the general public that video games are an art form to be respected.

Sorry for the double post, but I must continue. After all, this is my home state:

"The government may not limit minors’ exposure to creative works based on a
general belief that they may be psychologically harmful, absent substantial evidence. And as much as Defendants may wish otherwise, Plaintiffs are not
required to present a study showing that the video games “are good for children.”"

"A minor who is prevented by the Act from buying or renting a video game containing “inappropriate violence” may still legally buy or rent the book or movie on which the game was based. As other courts have noted, “this
type of facial underinclusiveness undermines the claim that the regulation materially advances its alleged interests.”

"Thus, the language of the Act undermines Defendants’ argument that the Act would assist parents, because the Act in reality would serve to punish parents who choose to disseminate materials to a minor that describe, exhibit, present, or represent “inappropriate violence.”"

"Moreover, given the vagueness and subjectivity of the terms in the Act, a retailer “might know everything there is to know about the game and yet not be able to determine whether it can legally be sold to a minor.”"

Sorry again for the long double post, I accidentally hit the submit button. These are just some of my favorite quotes from the ruling. I hope that all of you have enjoyed it as well.

ALRIGHT! It's about freakin' time. I went through the ruling myself, and I think my favorite part about the whole thing was the multiple references to prior cases. We're kinda like a big video game boss that just gets stronger the more we get hit.

HOOAH, bitch!

How many video game laws have been overturned overall in the US?

I'm just wondering if they're trying to go for all 50 states...

Wasn't this based off of Louisiana's "bulletproof" law (that was also tossed out)?

If so, ha!

The First Amendment does not allow prohibitions based on “common sense.” See Kendrick, 244 F.3d at 578; Granholm, 426 F. Supp. 2d at 663-64.

Can I be the first to say "duh"?

@Judith Iscariot

I believe it's 10 overturned now.

GP: By my count, it's nine:

-Indianapolis, St. Louis, Washington State

-California, Illinois, Michigan

-Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma

 

And again, the law is above all else, God bless America.

Damn activist judges! Don't they know we're trying to grandst.... I mean protect the children and save lives here?!

We'll get you next time Constitution, NEXT TIIIIME!

@PHOENIXZERO
Awesome Inspector Gadget reference! Reminded me of my childhood.

Anyways, it is great to see judges interpreting the laws and Constitution (signed on this day, in fact, by our forefathers) instead of legislating from the bench. Kudos to this judge and all other judges involved in protecting our freedoms. The government serves the people, not the other way around.

And chalk up another victory for our side and probably soon another insult throwing fest by our resident know nothing attorney.

Wow, get back in from work and such and read yet another great bit of news.
Sept 17 should be a holiday or something.

These rulings are starting to sound like a broken record aren't they?

"Unconstitutional"........"Unconstitutional"......."Unconstitutional"........"Unconstitutional"....."Unconstitutional"...... :)

Thank you Judge Cauthron for upholding our First Amendment.

Hooah!!
 
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