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Minnesota Court Filing Shows Issues in Video Game Law Appeal

Yesterday, GamePolitics reported on Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch's plans to appeal a July federal court decision which ruled that the state's "fine the buyer" video game law was unconstitutional.

Hatch, of course, riled gamers earlier in June with language in a court filing which described some games as "worthless, disgusting speech" and "speech of very low societal value."

Hatch, a Democrat, also happens to be running for Governor and faces an uphill battle against incumbent Republican Tim Pawlenty, who signed the bill into law, thus triggering the legal battle with the video game industry.

In overturning the Minnesota law, Federal Judge James Rosenbaum issued a stinging rebuke to Hatch, writing, ""The First Amendment... was certainly established to keep the government from becoming the arbiter of what constitutes 'worthless' or 'disgusting' speech. The Court declines the State's invitation to enter into an evaluation of this kind."

Hatch's appeal indicates that the Minnesota A.G. does not believe a settlement can be reached with the video game industry. The court filing also shows that Hatch's appeal will turn on five legal issues (note - the wording below is A.G. Hatch's, not GP's):

  • "Are video games a protected form of speech under the First Amendment, or unprotected entertainment like other games that do not enjoy First Amendment protection?"

  • "Are patently offensive video games, which have the effect of debasing and brutalizing human beings, unprotected obscene speech as to minors?"

  • "Did the District Court err in deciding that the State may not restrict the purchase or rental of violent video games by minors absent scientifically certain proof that violent video games cause harm to minors and in rejecting the substantial empirical evidence the State submitted from which harm to minors' psychological well-being and moral and ethical development can reasonably be inferred?"

  • "Did the District Court err in holding that (the law) is not narrowly tailored to serve the State's compelling interests in protecting minors from harm?"

  • "Did the District Court err in holding that the Act's adoption of the ESRB rating system is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority..."
Tags: first amendment, judge rosenbaum, mike hatch, minnesota
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