May 8th, 2006

Will California Court Battle Ruin E3 Party?

A character dressed in black robes could hit E3 with a lightning bolt this week. But he's not a mage and this is no game.

The character is U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte, who on Friday will hear final arguments on California's 2005 video game law in a San Jose courtroom. The lightning bolt would come if hizzoner ruled against the video game industry's First Amendment challenge to the California legislation. Like many such bills, the law would restrict sales of M-rated games to minors. The state's video games bill was championed by California Assembly Speaker Leland Yee (D) and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in October.

Judge Whyte, who in December issued a temporary injunction blocking the law from taking effect, will consider arguments in favor of the law from the California Attorney General's Office and in opposition from lawyers representing the game industry. If you'd like to read the state's latest submission in the case, click here. For the industry's position, here.

To date, the industry is batting a thousand with its First Amendment argument, including recent big wins in Illinois and Michigan. Based on that track record, as well as the fact that Judge Whyte already found enough problems with the California law to issue the temporary injunction, it seems likely that once again the industry will prevail.

Then again, you never know.

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