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High Court Rules California Can't Regulate Sale Of Violent Video Games To Kids

"The Supreme Court on Monday refused to let California regulate the sale or rental of violent video games to children, saying governments do not have the power to 'restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed' despite complaints about graphic violence," writes the AP.

NPR's Nina Totenberg reported for our newscast desk earlier that this is the oldest case of the term. The case has been awaiting resolution since November. The California law at issue would have imposed a $1,000 fine on retailers each time they sold a minor a violent video game. Here's how Nina explained the case:

California defended its law , contending that violent video games are harmful to children. The state said that since minors do not have the same First Amendment rights as adults, all this law does is ensure that parents decide which video games their children can buy. But the video game industry countered that California's law is a solution in search of a problem. The industry notes that it voluntarily puts ratings on each game, instructs stores not to sell mature games to minors, and that the Federal Trade Commission found 80 percent compliance — the best record in the entertainment industry.

The 7-2 decision upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out the law.

"No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm," the AP reports Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, said. "But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.