"There We Were, Killing Everybody," Supreme Court Justice Recalls About Playing Games Before Decision

Elena Kagan also says case was a "really hard case; super hard case."


Current United States Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan is again talking about the situation surrounding the high court's landmark 2011 video game ruling and how difficult it was for her. During an appearance this week at Harvard University, Kagan described the case as a "really hard case; super hard case."

In a 2011 interview, she revealed that she struggled "mightily" to come to a decision. She eventually voted in favor of striking down a law that sought to prevent retailers from selling violent video games to minors. By a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court decided that the law was unconstitutional.

Also in her interview, Kagan shed more light on the events surrounding the decision, reiterating that that she, along with Justice Stephen Breyer, played a violent video game before making their judgement. The morning of the hearing, she asked her clerk if there was "a violent video game that everybody will know." The clerk suggested a game (it was not named outright, but Kagan says it was an "iconic, but dated" violent video game) and then she and Breyer played it in his office.

"There we were, killing everybody left and right," Kagan recalled. The Washington Post reports that this game could have been Postal 2 or Mortal Kombat.

She went on to say that she was really into the game and wanted to play round after round, but Breyer--who voted to uphold the law--found the game appalling and disgusting and wanted to stop.

"I was like, 'Next round, next round!'" she said. "I don't know if I should say this: It's probably reflective of the fact that we did come out on different sides of this case. I like to think there are better reasons than that."

Under the law, which never took effect, retailers that sold such games to minors would be subject to a $1,000 fine. The bill would also have required "violent" video games to bear a two-inch-by-two-inch sticker with a "solid white '18' outlined in black" on their front covers.

You can watch the full Harvard interview above. The video game talk starts at around 25 minutes.

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