US Supreme Court to decide California video game law's fate Monday

It's going to be literally down to the final day of the US Supreme Court's current term before the nine assembled judges announce their decision in a court case that will affect the entire video and PC game industry. The court is expected to announce on Monday, June 27 whether it believes a California law that limits the sale of games with violent content to minors is in fact legal under the First Amendment.

The final verdict will be the end of a court battle that dates back to 2005 when California state lawmaker Leland Yee first wrote up Assembly Bill 1179. That bill would later become law when then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it in November of that year. However the video game industry quickly struck back a month later, convincing a judge to block the enforcement of the law until a lawsuit filed against it could go through the court system.

Two lower court rulings found the law to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment's free speech rights. However the state of California decided to appeal those lower court decisions and took their case to the US Supreme Court. To the surprise of many in the game industry the nine judges on the court decided to hear the case and in November 2010 oral arguments for and against the law were given to the nine judges. Most people in the game industry expect the US Supreme Court to uphold the decisions of the lower courts. However if the US Supreme Court decides to overturn those previous court rulings it may mean that other states will attempt to do the same thing as California. The result could mean different game ratings could be passed for every state in the US which could affect how games themselves are developed and published in the US.

Lee, who was an Assemblyman for the state of California when his bill was signed into law, is now a state senator. He has already issued a press release this week where he stated, "I am cautiously optimistic that the justices will help protect our children from the harmful effects of ultra-violent video games and provide parents a tool in raising healthy kids." He added, "The video game industry should not be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children.”

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