Supreme Court Decision: Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. ___ (2011)

The U. S. Supreme Court, in a 7 - 2 decision issued in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. _ (2011), on June 27, 2011, struck down a California ban on sales of violent video games  to children. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, stated  that video games were subject to full First Amendment protection.

Violent depictions, stated Justice Scalia, have never been subject to government restrictions. He cited various fairy tales, such as "Snow White" and "Cinderella," in support of this proposition. The goal of the law to protect minors did not alter the constitutional analysis.

In a dissent, Justice Thomas argued that minors' free speech was not protected by the First Amendment. In a separate dissent, Justice Breyer found the statute did not run afoul of the First Amendment, as the violent games were associated with aggressive behavior and therefore harmed youngsters.

James Alan Fox, Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University and author of the Crime & Punishment blog on Boston.com, offers his insight and opinion on the decision in his column, 'The violent video game blame game.'

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