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Justices Split on Violent Games

Published on November 3, 2010
by Jess Bravin

The Supreme Court seemed split Tuesday over First Amendment protection for videogames, scrambling the justices’ typical ideological lineup in a conflict between a new medium’s free expression rights and government efforts to shield youth from bad influences.

A 2005 California law bans those under 18 from buying or renting violent videogames that appeal to “a deviant or morbid interest in minors.” Lower courts struck down the law, under precedent authorizing government to restrict youth from only one type of material, obscene sexual content.

In seeking the law’s reinstatement, Zackery Morazzini, a deputy state attorney general, told the court: “California is no less concerned with a minor’s access to the deviant level of violence that is presented in a certain category of video games” than it is with sexually explicit material.

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