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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

11-BROWN on Nov 2, 2010

Decided Jun 27, 2011
Case Ruling: BROWN v. ENTERTAINMENT MERCHANTS
A California law imposed $1000 civil fines on persons who sold or rented to minors "violent video games." The video game industry sued to prevent enforcement of the law.

HELD: Delivered by SCALIA; joined by KENNEDY, GINSBURG, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN

Video games are a form of speech and are subject to protection under the First Amendment because it has proved difficult to distinguish between politics and entertainment. Games communicate ideas through literary devices. A well defined constitutional tradition is that restrictions based on the content of speech are permitted only in only a few areas, such as obscenity, incitement to violence, or uttering fighting words. Depictions of violence are not within this tradition. California has not chosen to restrict those other media, e.g., Saturday morning cartoons, therefore California's law is underinclusive, suggesting that it disfavors a particular speaker or viewpoint.

CONCURRED: ALITO concurs in judgment; joined by ROBERTS

The California law should have been struck down on due process grounds as "vague": It lacked sufficiently narrow definition of "violent video game" so that a retailer would be put on notice. The Court should not have resorted to the First Amendment and should have been far more careful and moved with more deliberation in evaluating a new technology, since the future may find participating in a video game is actually different from watching movie.

DISSENT: THOMAS dissents

The Founders would not have seen any right to speak to a minor other than through his parents, which is what the California law permits.

DISSENT: BREYER dissents

The California law withstands other First Amendment's strict scrutiny.


  • Topic: Families & Children
  • Headline: 1st Amendment protects videogame violence as "speech"
  • Headline 2: 1st Amendment doesn't apply to vague restrictions
  • Headline 3: Founders believed parents controlled speech to children

    Participating counts on AmericansElect question 9.
  • Headline: 1st Amendment protects videogame violence as "speech" (Answer: A)
  • Headline 2: 1st Amendment doesn't apply to vague restrictions (Answer: D)
  • Headline 3: Founders believed parents controlled speech to children (Answer: A)
  • AmericansElect Quiz Question 9 on Reform: Which of the following comes closest to your personal opinion?
    • A: To make this country great, we should return to the examples and values of our forefathers
    • B: This country is already great, we shouldn't change a thing
    • C: To make this country great, we should keep building and adapting for the future


  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.



Democrats participating in 11-BROWN

Stephen Breyer w2dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Elena Kagan j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sonia Sotomayor j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 



Republicans participating in 11-BROWN

Samuel Alito w2cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
John Roberts j2cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Antonin Scalia w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Clarence Thomas w3dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 



Independents participating in 11-BROWN



Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 4
Republicans: 5
Independents: 0


















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