While I'm sure they're all very busy people, sometimes it feels like the Supreme Court drags things out a little longer than necessary. Pretty much forever ago the Justices heard the case against California's ban on sales of violent videogames to minors. I mean, that was a whole different Governator. His secret love child was only 7 years old when he originally signed the bill! Since then, the case has transferred in name to the new California governor, Jerry Brown, but by the time he took office, arguments were over and it was in the hands of the court. Now a decision is finally expected this week, possibly as soon as Monday.
The case stems from a California law passed in 2005 that levied fines against retailers who sold "depraved, violent" videogames to minors. The Electronic Merchants Association sued, saying that the law was a violation of the first amendment right to free speech, and that similar attempts to curtail movies, music, and television had been ruled unconstitutional. California argued that videogames do special, exceptional harm to minors, which is why they are exempt from similar protections. Whatever the courts decide will be the law of the land: are videogames equal to other forms of expression, or should they be considered somehow more dangerous to our kids? It seems like most court watchers feel that the Justices weren't buying the "exceptional harm" argument, but when it comes down to asking 9 relatively old people to understand videogames on a deeper level than Pac-Man, you can never be sure.