Supreme Court Decision on Violent Video Games May Not End Efforts to Limit Access to Children

June 29, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., June 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Even though the Supreme Court voted 7-2 to overturn a California law that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors, there is growing sentiment among parents and legislators that something needs to be done to protect children from exposure to these disturbing images and experiences.

Attorney Dylan Reeves of the law firm of Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC, was published in the Alabama Law Review on this issue and believes there is a legal way to stop at least some of the most violent video games from getting into the hands of minors if such laws are reworded, as justices have hinted, to survive a First Amendment challenge.

Reeves suggests this difference is in the definition of the words “violent video game.” While some justices recognized that violent video games can train players to commit real life acts of violence, they refused to uphold the law because the definition of violent video game was too broad and overreaching. For example, Justice Samuel Alito expressed his concerns and said, “California law does not define ‘violent video games’ with the ‘narrow specificity’ that the Constitution demands.” In other words, if California were to enact another ban of violent video games that better defines what is a “violent video game,” it may be constitutional, says Reeves.

He suggests that there are two types of video games: (1) games that merely have a violent atmosphere – such as those with blood and gore – but that do not essentially train people to commit real life acts of violence; and then there are (2) Modus operandi games – which allow the player to create and simulate real-life characters and environments where they train over and over again, allowing them to develop a skill set that allows them to commit real life acts of violence.

Reeves offers that if a state were to create a law using these definitions, it would have a good chance of withstanding a Supreme Court test because it would be better defined and more “narrowly tailored,” which could persuade Alito, who was joined in his concurrence by Chief Justice Roberts. Reeves notes that Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent was in accord with the substance of Alito and Roberts, but differed in outcome.

In addition, Reeves says this could persuade Justice Clarence Thomas’ vote as well, whose dissent opines that the practices and beliefs held by the United States’ founders shows there is another category of protected speech: speech to children that bypasses their parents. That would make it a 5-4 case, which may persuade at least one of the remaining current majority to change their opinion.

Reeves welcomes comment and questions from all interested parties. For more information about Dylan Reeves or to contact him, please visit www.hsy.com.


With offices in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, Atlanta, New York City and Washington, D.C., Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC provides a full range of professional legal services to local, regional and national clients. The firm provides sophisticated advice and representation to clients in Alabama and across the country through its transactional and litigation practice groups.

For more information on Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC, please visit www.hsy.com. To speak with Dylan Reeves, contact Ruwena Healy at 205.655.0783.

SOURCE Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC

Source: newswire

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