Michigan game law unconstitutional

Federal judge rules that games are protected under the First Amendment, casts doubt on claims that violent games lead to aggressive behavior.

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A federal judge has overturned a Michigan law restricting the sale of violent video games, the most recent in a series of decisions that have gutted similar laws on free-speech grounds.

US District Judge George Caram Steeh ruled on Friday that a state law criminalizing the sale of violent video games to anyone under 17 years of age is unconstitutional because that form of entertainment is protected by the First Amendment's freedom of expression clause.

"Video games are a form of creative expression that are constitutionally protected under the First Amendment," Steeh ruled. "They contain original artwork, graphics, music, story lines and characters similar to movies and television shows, both of which are considered protected free speech."

The ruling represents another setback to politicians and antigame activists who have mounted a state-by-state campaign for such restrictions. In the last few years, the 7th and 8th Circuit courts of appeal, plus federal judges in Washington, Illinois, and California, have found such laws to be unconstitutional.

"As long as they keep losing and most of the time don't even appeal, things are unlikely to change," said Paul Smith, a partner at the Jenner and Block law firm who is representing the Entertainment Software Association and the Video Software Dealers Association in the lawsuit. (Smith recently testified at a US Senate hearing on games.)

One reason for the judicial skepticism is that academic studies have not established a link between simulated violence in video games and real-world action. (Under Supreme Court precedent, such a link between simulated violence and "imminent lawless action" would be necessary to make those laws constitutional.) Craig Anderson, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, offered testimony on behalf of Michigan, saying that simulated violence can become "automatized" with repeated exposure.

But Steeh, in a 17-page opinion, said that "despite this claim, Dr. Anderson's studies have not provided any evidence that the relationship between violent video games and aggressive behavior exists. His tests fail to prove that video games have ever caused anyone to commit a violent act, as opposed to feeling aggressive, or have caused the average level of violence to increase anywhere."

Politicians who support more laws targeting video games, however, have been trying to write large checks to researchers they hope will come up with more compelling studies. Last month, Democratic senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Hillary Clinton of New York, and Dick Durbin of Illinois persuaded a Senate committee to approve a sweeping study of the "impact of electronic media use."

Last November, Clinton and Lieberman introduced the Family Entertainment Protection Act, a federal piece of legislation that restricts minors' access to violent games in much the same way as the overturned Michigan law, but would also require the Federal Trade Commission to conduct annual audits of the industry's ratings system.

Discussion

99 comments
SAMLST
SAMLST

These F#cks are spending tax dollars on this while there are soldiers in Iraq who don't even have half decent body armor. Makes me F$cking sick.

Cloud737
Cloud737

"Politicians who support more laws targeting video games, however, have been trying to write large checks to researchers they hope will come up with more compelling studies." WTF? Can`t you come up with better ways to spend tax money? That is a total waste of time and money, and yet politicians go after it because it makes theit votes go up. Yeah, right!

miiiguel
miiiguel

It's good for the gaming community that it's Mrs. Clinton and "brains" alike that pushes these non-senses, imagine if it was someone with an actual brain ?

clearwaterslick
clearwaterslick

Why Hillary, WHY???? Can't you see that a majority of the youth in America is democratic AND plays video games. I swear if you keep this behavior up I will be forced to vote for Jeb Bush over you in the next election! Is that sad that the deciding factor for how I vote will most likely be the candidates view on video games??

DesertRat1314
DesertRat1314

I'm in my mid-teens and i've been playing games like doom and such since i could walk. I'm a big fan of i suppose some of the most violent games, FPSs. But i'm not out w/ gangbangers doin drivebys or any crazy stuff like that because my parents actually decided to raise me. I really don't like politics, who does, lol. actually acording to this chart and article youth violent crime has decliened since the release of major gaming systems and games http://www.fatal1ty.com/news/?type=PR&ID=26. Possibly an outlet of the violent tendensies?(just speculation) Maybe, since gun companies have the NRA etc., maybe us, as the gaming community, need to create a similar organization. :) this is beginning to get out of hand. i have a bad feeling in the next election there isn't going to be a good canidate just like gore vs. bush and kerry vs. bush, I don't care for any of them really, lol. just a thought...

pjnukem_37
pjnukem_37

I think that Hilary Clinton is realy a man.......

troakun
troakun

Most underage male criminals play video games. How do I know this? Because most underage males play videogames.

Autolycus
Autolycus

MOST DEMOCRATS dont like Hilary Clinton. So all you bush lovers(who are too blind to see the truth) need come up with something better the Hillary Clinton attacking whatever she can to make a name.

ewjim
ewjim

I think that's good for now... But here, in Russian Federation, we don't have ANY law about games, yet! :P

Lucifer013
Lucifer013

Yea, it would be funny if she is really doing this because Bill is playing GTA 24/7 and isn't paying any attention to her, lol.

YEPEE00
YEPEE00

expression & being expressed apon are two entirely... different things.

HalfLifer248
HalfLifer248

Shes wasting her time she'll never ban GTA or any violent videogame. Its just unconstitutional for her to ban kids from buyign games. I go to Gamestop and they never let me buy M rated games even before all this Hot Coffee.

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

*Yawn* Sounds like Hilary needs a new recreational activity to keep her busy from losing all these pointless lawsuits. How about getting LAID? Maybe she won't be so uptight anymore. Help us out, Bill!

StillWingless
StillWingless

fabulous to know that our courts still have their heads screwed on (relatively) straight.

shrum91
shrum91

if she tried to run for president she wont get as many botes as she would like...cause of all this

the_junk
the_junk

Antigame activists shouldnt be getting down on "violent games" so much as they should be getting down on themselves for raising their children wrong. You think a game "made" your kid beat someone with a baseball bat? if you would have instilled in him any decent moral values then maybe he'd turn out just fine, ya think?

NERDSFOREVER
NERDSFOREVER

PRAISE THE LORD!!! JUSTICE IS SERVED!!!!!!! NOW FOR EVERY OTHER STATE TO FOLLOW THE SAME EXAMPLE

Nehvlis
Nehvlis

Yeah I'm from Mi but i'm 17 now so i would rather see this pass... But of course it would only open the window for more restrictions so in the long run. Video Game Industry: 1 Granholm: 0

thefjk
thefjk

More weird laws on games...

Murad1
Murad1

Conservative party is going crazy nowdays, i mean wtf?First they scream about porn and how it corrupts our society and they are banning it and now they are running their mouths about vidoe games and music.yeah it starts out with the whol 'we want to protect our children from that stuff' talk but then even adults will be forbidden to buy that kind of stuff.I did not come to this country so that some governmental dumb ass was telling what kind of thing i cant watch or play and i am 21year old!Wheee taht fetl good

URINAL123
URINAL123

This is soooo stupid. GTA doesn't make any more felons then Marylin Manson (ugh). They all ready regulate these things. THEY'RE CALLED RATINGS. It makes me mad they could impose their willl like this. HOORAY for the constitution!!!

umbrae
umbrae

Another one bites the dust...

l337gamer99
l337gamer99

Heh. Lack of evidence= phail To like...the max...or something.

marquiess
marquiess

Another one bites the dust. Good work Judge!!!

bringon22
bringon22

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

bringon22
bringon22

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

jimbo102671
jimbo102671

Clinton, Leiberman, Thompson, and any such others might as well give this up. If the FEPA is in any way similar to the struck down Michigan law, FEPA itself will eventually be declared unconstitutional as well. Congress is not above the Constitution, and it's time they are told that in no uncertain terms.

aransom
aransom

What are you talking about fisticuffs?!? Of course the Federal government has the right to weigh in on state law. Did you go to public school? State laws must adhere to the US constitution and if Federal judges rule that state laws violate the US constitution they get struck down. This happens all the time. Here's a few examples: the Texas anti-sodomy law a year or two ago, Prop. 187 in California several years ago, that would have taken public services away from illegal aliens, 1954 Brown vs. the Board that made it segregation laws illegal. I'm glad to see some sanity from the courts once in a while. The war against video games is just a symptom of the nanny state run amok in our society. Parents don't want to be burdened with raising their kids so they want the government to do it. Our society is lax on punishing crime and we come up with all these excuses for bad behavior instead of holding people responsible for their actions, "I couldn't help killing that person, a video game made me do it"

Tarnsyn
Tarnsyn

Well, that's good! I was born, raised, and live in Michigan, and it's good to see such a law struck down. If only the whole issue would just stop, but that won't be happening for a long while.

caesarbites
caesarbites

Judges = smart. This is like the third or fourth time in weeks that judges have flat-out owned the politicians with a "Nope"...

fisticuffs
fisticuffs

These judges need to read the constitution and realize that the federal government has no right to weigh in on this state law.

General__bob
General__bob

If the parent thinks its ok for their child to play violent games by all means let them play. Just don't get mad at video games when you didn't look at the rating when you bought the game.

BulletproofPat
BulletproofPat

Politicians should stop this stupid campaign against video games. Just because they can't play them because they have bad hand-eye coordination doesn't mean they have to take it out on us. I doubt playing a FICTIONAL game like Resident Evil would make a kid want to go out and blow the heads off of people with a shotgun, honestly. Or even GTA, only stupid LITTLE kids would emulate the actions shown in GTA. That's what the ratings are there for and adults need to buy M games for children.

ATISolidSnake
ATISolidSnake

Nobody wants Hilary to win. The 2 people that are likely to win in 2008 is Republican John Mccain or his good friend Republican Juliani

Ubersoldat87
Ubersoldat87

ok, US is dirty country with crimes as far as one can see

ATISolidSnake
ATISolidSnake

you cant ban games because movies television and bad books are more violent than videogames. This is why Hilary Clintons bill is being vetoed, because it is against the First Amendment

Nradd99
Nradd99

"The problem is that no one, not the kids, the stores, or the politicians seem to be using it. The politicians should not be trying to define what a 'violent' game is... they should try to work within the boundries that the gaming industries have already set up. Movie theaters do not let underage kids into R rated movies and so stores that sell software should take on the same respect with M & AO rated games. If parents don't mind their kids having access to R rated movies they must take them to the theater to see it. The same should be true for M & AO rated games. The kids should be able to play it IF their parents allow it and are aware of the game's content. I am a parent of a pair of gamers (10 & 12 years old) and am an avid gamer myself. There are some M rated games I will allow my kids to play and some I will not. Like I said there is a great system already in place now if everyone would just start using it." It

sancezz
sancezz

for God sake, make it illegal already, kids shouldn't have games that they're deemed to young for, SO WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?!

holhardy
holhardy

The 4th State to rule its Game Law is unconstitutional. 46 more to go.

veracity024
veracity024

Suck it Thompson! I want to see you in the cage!

Nradd99
Nradd99

We shouldn't get too excited just yet. If law suits continue to pop up everywhere, eventually one is bound to win, opening the door for others. Thank God Steeh had the basic reasoning skills to strike down the proposed law as unconstitutional. Still, this is only a minor victory. The only permenant solution is an amendment classifying video games as artistic expression, which would require much arguing on the part of gamers and free speech activists.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

Truth be told, I don't really think it IS a majority of people that are for these anti-game legislations. It's much like with television or the movies, we have a very vocal minority, and the rest of us could really give a crap less. And the idea that the video game industry doesn't have the money to defend itself is laughable. It's only been doing that for, what, the past decade? The game industry is too big and too rich to be pushed around by politicians with an axe to grind. My money's on all this nonsense going away for good in three to five years, when the ESA starts tossing funds into Republican campaigns (And yes, there aren't anywhere NEAR as many Republican supporters for this nonsense as there are Democrats).

OPOLO
OPOLO

Government - Please stay away & just teach people how to parent. We need better parents not more laws

UltimatumCHIEF
UltimatumCHIEF

Eat that Jack Thompson:twisted: :evil:Movies:evil:make you More violent than Video games:)do......It's True:!:

Generalissimo
Generalissimo

These kind of stories really make my blood boil. I don't think the video game industry should be penalized for making games geared for adults. I think its sufficient that they put a ratings label on the game and brief description of the contents. Nor should they be responsible for every child or idiot that gets thier hand on one of thier games. The burden of responsibility lies on the parent and the retailers. On the retailers to make sure that they do not sell the R rated games to minors. And on the parents to take some damn responsibility for thier children. As a father of 2 young kids, I never play any of my adult themed games (i.e., Silent Hill games) when my kids are around. I usually wait until i'm alone or they are asleep. This is all a bunch of crap. The real message here is not that video games are violent, but that parents have to take responsibility. enuff said