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Federal Court Decision

   It was announced today that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has overturned a St. Louis County Ordinance that restricted the sale of violent videogames to minors. The case was filed by The Interactive Digital Software Association (ISDA) and several other groups, as they claimed videogames are an expression that is protected by the Constitution. The Federal Court ruled in favor of the ISDA, as it reitterated that videogames

   "This decision is a total and unambiguous affirmation of our position that videogames have the same constitutional status as a painting, a film, or a book," said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the IDSA. "The decision sends a powerful signal to government at all levels that efforts to regulate consumers' access to the creative and expressive content found in video games will not be tolerated."

   "If the first amendment is versatile enough to 'shield [the] painting of Jackson Pollack, music of Arnold Schoenberg, or Jabberwocky verse of Lewis Carroll,' Hurley, 515 U.S. at 569, we see no reason why the pictures, graphic design, concept art, sounds, music, stories and narrative present in video games are not entitled to similar protection."

   "We do not mean to denigrate the government's role in supporting parents, or the right of parents to control their children's exposure to graphically violent materials. We merely hold that the government cannot silence protected speech by wrapping itself in the cloak of parental authority…To accept the County's broadly-drawn interest as a compelling one would be to invite legislatures to undermine the first amendment rights of minors willy-nilly under the guise of promoting parental authority."

6/3/2003 Matt Stensrud

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