Violent Video Games and The First Amendment

The United States Supreme Court has once again told us that the First Amendment is essentially the “first” amendment for a reason. In the recent case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, the Court held that a California law (which regulated the sale violent video games to minors) was still in violation of the First Amendment. The Court held that the "freedom of expression" part of the First Amendment has only a very small number of exceptions, including child “obscenity,” “incitement,” and “fighting words.” The Court held that despite the fact that the technology associated with video games was new, the Court did not need to create a new exception to First Amendment protection. The Court essentially held that video games are entitled to the same historical First Amendment protection as books, movies, music, and other expressive entertainment. The Court acknowledged that while many of the video games are in fact disgusting, “disgust is not a valid basis for restricting expression." This US Supreme Court has made a number of recent First Amendment decisions which indicate a clear and strong protective instinct for freedom of expression.    As you may recall, and as we posted on March 18, 2011, the Court even held the disgusting things yelled at the funerals of dead soldiers was protected speech.