SCOTUS has been on a roll lately:
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to let California regulate the sale or rental of violent video games to children, saying governments do not have the power to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed” despite complaints about graphic violence.
On a 7-2 vote, the high court upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out the state’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento had ruled that the law violated minors’ rights under the First Amendment, and the high court agreed.
“No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion. “But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”
As Ed Morrissey points out, this may have implications far beyond video games. There is a huge segment of existing and proposed federal law restricting advertisements to children. If the state can not keep video games away from kids, how is it going to argue it can ban Tony the Tiger? (Yes, you read that right, that food grabbers want to ban Tony the fucking Tiger.)
I’m actually somewhat surprised at this since the Court has traditionally found that minors don’t have full Constitutional rights — hence their support for parental notification laws or locker searches in schools. They may have finally found a bridge they aren’t willing to cross.
As for violent video games … do I really need to say it? The evidence that violent video games affect kids, as Scalia noted, is suspect at best (Penn and Teller did a great episode on this). I personally would keep them away from kids until they’re a little older. But there I go again, taking my parenting responsibilities seriously rather than just foisting them off on the government.
Update: They really are on a roll. They also struck down Arizona’s campaign matching law — the one that says that if a political candidate is privately funded, the state will give his opponent matching funds. That’s shouldn’t have been a 5-4, really.