ECA holding US Supreme Court rally Nov. 2

Pro-gamer lobby rallying the faithful in DC as high court hears arguments for and against California game law.


On November 2, the US Supreme Court will hear the case of Schwarzenegger v. EMA, which contests the constitutionality of a California game restriction law. The EMA stands for the Entertainment Merchants Association, the trade group of game and video retailers that filed the court challenge that led to the law being ruled unconstitutional in 2007 and again in 2009 on appeal.

The ECA marks the spot where they want gamers to rally on November 2.
The ECA marks the spot where they want gamers to rally on November 2.

The EMA is also supported by the Entertainment Software Association, the lobby for game publishers, and the Entertainment Consumers Association, the lobby for consumers of electronic entertainment. To show its support, the latter group will be holding a rally outside the US Supreme Court building at 1 First Street NE, Washington, DC, at 9 a.m. EDT on November 2. That's the same day the high body is poised to make a ruling that could permit--or prohibit--direct regulation of game sales by states.

Whatever the court's decision, the legal fight that led to the Supreme Court was long and hard-fought. At issue in the case is California Assembly Bill 1179, which was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 but was challenged in court before it could take effect.

Penned by California state assemblyman Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), CAB1179 sought to ban the sale or rental of what the state defined as "violent video games" to children. The bill would have fined those selling such games to children $1,000 per offense and required "violent" video games to bear a 2-inch-by-2-inch sticker with a "solid white '18' outlined in black" on their front covers.

In 2007, the circuit court judge who struck down the law as unconstitutional admitted he was "sympathetic to what the legislature sought to do." Last year, an appellate court judge backed up the original ruling. Months before the appellate court's decision, in an appearance on GameSpot's HotSpot podcast, Yee predicted that the dispute would be pushed to the Supreme Court.

The entertainment industry and free-speech advocates have rallied to the EMA's side, with more than 182 experts and organizations signing amicus briefs denouncing the California law. So too did the attorneys general of 11 states, including Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia.

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