Video games constitutionally protected

A federal court strikes down a law that would prevent the sale of video games to minors.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has struck down a St. Louis County law that would prevent the sales of video games to minors. The ruling stated that video games are protected under the First Amendment as a form of free speech and therefore cannot be regulated by the government. The court found that the county's reasons for regulating sales, which included influencing minors with violent imagery, were largely unfounded and that the government has no ample reason for regulating the sales of games to minors on behalf of parents since parents were reportedly involved in purchasing decisions 83 percent of the time, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

"We do not mean to denigrate the government's role in supporting parents, or the right of parents to control their children's exposure to graphically violent materials," the ruling stated. "We merely hold that the government cannot silence protected speech by wrapping itself in the cloak of parental authority...To accept the county's broadly drawn interest as a compelling one would be to invite legislatures to undermine the First Amendment rights of minors willy-nilly under the guise of promoting parental authority."

The court added, "if the First Amendment is versatile enough to 'shield [the] painting of Jackson Pollack, music of Arnold Schoenberg, or jabberwocky verse of Lewis Carroll, we see no reason why the pictures, graphic design, concept art, sounds, music, stories, and narrative present in video games are not entitled to similar protection."

To read the full opinion from the Court of Appeals, follow this link.

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