Guest Column: ECA General Counsel Outlines Road Ahead for Schwarzenegger Case

October 25, 2010 -

With all of the interest around the violent video game case, Schwarzenegger v EMA, we get questions daily on the process, the case, the legal principals, our amicus brief, others’ briefs, and what is going to happen on the day of oral arguments and beyond. While we hope that the following information will shed some light on the oral argument process, we also routinely refer folks to the Supreme Court website, as well as to relevant articles on GamePolitics.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS or Court) building is an impressive edifice and celebrated its 75th birthday just last week. While it is open to the public, as are the SCOTUS oral arguments, seating is extremely limited for the public in the courtroom. There are somewhere between 50-100 seats available in total. Guests of the Justices and a certain number of lawyers for and guests of the named parties, members of the SCOTUS bar, and members of the SCOTUS press corps all are allowed in first. Both the bar and the press corps are made up of folks in those professions, who have gone through the process to become a member of their respective SCOTUS professional group.
 
Then, after all those folks go in, any remaining seats may be filled by people who line up outside the court building. Some people line up the night before, but most people begin showing up a little before 8:00 am. The public is allowed in at 9:30 to begin the security process, and the first oral argument always begins at 10:00 am. Schwarzenegger is the first case on the docket for November 2nd.

Additionally, sometimes groups stage rallies on the SCOTUS steps. It is common and routine for consumer advocacy groups like ECA, AARP, NARAL, NOW and others to put on such rallies on important constitutional questions.

Once everyone is seated, the entrance doors in the back of the courtroom are closed. Recording devises and cell phones are forbidden, and the oral arguments are not broadcast outside the room live. Within 24 hours, the official court reporter’s transcript is put online at the SCOTUS website. While SCOTUS’ blog (http://ussc.blogspot.com) recently announced that SCOTUS would routinely begin offering radio feeds of oral arguments in the weeks after the fact, they still will not be offering video.
 
Everyone in the audience sits waiting in hushed silence.  Then three doors on the other, far side of the room open, the court marshal comes out and asks everyone to rise and stand for the entry of the Justices. Everyone rises to their feet and the Justices file in wearing their long black robes and take their seats at the bench, and everyone else sits and the court is brought to order. It’s a tremendously impressive process, especially when one visits the courtroom for the first time.

The first case for the day is called, here Schwarzenegger v EMA, and the attorneys for the two sides are called forward. First the Petitioner speaks for approximately 30 minutes giving their argument; in our case, it will be the California Attorney General. The Justices break in to ask questions in a rapid-fire Q&A. Then the Respondent has approximately 30 minutes to argue their side; in our case, it will be Paul Smith from Jenner & Block representing the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Again, the Justices break in and there is some back and forth with questions and answers.

That’s it. It’s very fast and almost before it began, the oral arguments in the case are all over.

Then the waiting begins again. The court generally hands down its decisions during its then-current term, which in our case ends June 30th 2011. By way of comparison, last term’s decision in the landmark First Amendment case, US v Stevens, was handed down over seven months after oral arguments.  The timing of the decision relates to a lot of considerations like who writes the opinion, how split the Justices are, are there any dissent(s), and how backed up they are with other cases. There’s really no way to tell. All we can know is that there will be much nail biting and head scratching between the oral argument in a couple of weeks and the decision being handed down in a number of months.

If you’re interested in participating in the case, keep an eye on our website for more information about the rally. We also maintain a dedicated page that highlights relevant coverage. And the consumer petition that is referenced in the ECA’s amicus brief is available here along with a bunch of social networking tools and ways for you to spread the word about the petition and case.


Jennifer Mercurio (herself a member of the SCOTUS Bar) is the Vice President & General Counsel for the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), the nonprofit membership organization that represents gamers in the U.S. and Canada.

Disclosure: GamePolitics is a publication of the ECA

 
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Wymorencehttp://goo.gl/snN00H Okay, this is hysterical if you've followed the Digital Homicide Vs. Jim "Mother****ing" Sterling stuff. A podcast of the two groups talking it out with one being eviscerated07/06/2015 - 9:12pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.engadget.com/2015/07/06/kuratas-versus-megabot-robot-duel/ ok I want to see this. not gamming related but still cool. us giant robot vs Japanese giant robot.07/06/2015 - 8:39pm
Goth_SkunkFair point.07/06/2015 - 7:56pm
Andrew EisenNo argument there.07/06/2015 - 7:46pm
Matthew Wilsonwell it would benefit Reddit to fix that asap. when of of the work on the site is done for free, there is no reason not to give them 1 of the few things they are asking for (better communications).07/06/2015 - 7:45pm
Andrew EisenRight and THAT'S what she appears to be apologizing for.07/06/2015 - 7:39pm
Matthew Wilson@AE the thing is it wasnt the firing in of it self that people got upset about, its the lack of communication. this would not be a issue if admins would just communicate more with mods.07/06/2015 - 7:39pm
Andrew EisenI don't get the sense she's apologizing for firing one of their employees. For all we know, they could have a very good reason for letting her go. But yeah, hopefully Reddit's subsequent actions speak louder than Pao's words.07/06/2015 - 7:34pm
Goth_SkunkIf Pao is directly responsible for the termination of Reddit's AMA co-ordinator, then good for her for owning up to her mistake. If she wasn't, smart business sense to take the fall. It will all be in vain though if she can't earn back the trust she lost.07/06/2015 - 7:23pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://money.cnn.com/2015/07/06/technology/reddit-back-online-ellen-pao/index.html she kinda had no choice given what happened Friday.07/06/2015 - 6:48pm
Matthew Wilson@matt dont get me wrong, I think steam is a better platform, but it does need to improve in some areas07/06/2015 - 6:48pm
MattsworknameYes, but thats only cause its actual software systems are far worse thn steam07/06/2015 - 5:56pm
Matthew Wilson@matt well it got refunds before steam, and has better customer service07/06/2015 - 5:50pm
MattsworknameOrigin is getting better, but its still miles out from being on Steams level.07/06/2015 - 5:27pm
PHX Corphttp://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/3bvzy7/as_a_former_developer_theres_a_lot_of_things_i/ Reddit Games: As a former developer, there's a lot of things I wish gamers knew. Here are some of those things...07/06/2015 - 10:52am
james_fudgeI play all of my games there!07/06/2015 - 10:36am
Andrew EisenHey, have you heard of Origin? It's pretty sweet!07/06/2015 - 10:26am
MattsworknameNot sure if your being sarcastic, or if you joined up with EA's marketing department07/06/2015 - 4:01am
Andrew EisenI don't know, maybe a heaping, helping of DRM is the panacea for all that ails Konami.07/06/2015 - 1:24am
MattsworknameThe only thing thats gonna save them andrew , is walking back all the stupid they have been doing lately. At this point , ithink they did to much damage to there brand to survive07/06/2015 - 12:42am
 

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