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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Goth_Skunk@WonderKarp: And that's why I don't read or watch mainstream news.01/29/2015 - 5:06pm
Matthew Wilsonzip is it KB or kb? if its KB its MB, if its kb is mb. ether way where do you live that you are getting ripped off that badly?01/29/2015 - 4:41pm
ZippyDSMleeI has a whole 1MB(mb mabye, 1000KBPS) for a whole...100$ a month ;_;01/29/2015 - 4:24pm
WonderkarpFCC appears to be kicking ass today01/29/2015 - 4:11pm
WonderkarpI found this neat. Shows the different ways different websites tell the same story. Not VG Related, but its neat https://i.imgur.com/3m6xOfE.jpg01/29/2015 - 2:12pm
Matthew Wilsonnp I am still suprised that the fcc did it, but I still do not trust the chairman yet.01/29/2015 - 2:11pm
Andrew EisenYeah, what I mean is I'm fortunate enough to live in an area where I have the option of up to 50Mbps if I want to pay for it. Meant that as an anecdote; didn't mean it to come across as a "you're wrong!" Sorry 'bout that!01/29/2015 - 2:06pm
Matthew WilsonThat is why I said "every market". for example totalbescuit has TWC, and the best he can get atm is 10/10.01/29/2015 - 1:58pm
Andrew EisenTWC offers speeds that high, at least in my area. (Standard is 15Mpbs)01/29/2015 - 1:54pm
Matthew Wilson@prh I still have my doubts. if anything the big winner is Comcast. they are the only isp in the us that can provide that speed in every market they serve. att, verizon, and twc cant or at least dont.01/29/2015 - 1:50pm
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prh99It's nice to see an FCC chair who isn't just there to facilitate monopoly building for cable and telecom. Basically not a dingo.01/29/2015 - 1:46pm
Wonderkarpmine was grandia 201/29/2015 - 1:39pm
Matthew Wilsonoh btw only about 5.6 percent of the us has broadband now.01/29/2015 - 1:21pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.theverge.com/2015/1/29/7932653/fcc-changed-definition-broadband-25mbps did not think the fcc would go through with it.01/29/2015 - 1:16pm
Andrew EisenI know, right? Don't you dare think the fact that I buy all your games makes this sort of behavior okay, TT Games!01/29/2015 - 12:57pm
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