Following lawsuits over a Illinois state law that would restrict video game sales, U.S. courts have ruled that the State of Illinois must pay the Entertainment Software Association, Video Software Dealers Association and Illinois Retail Merchants Association $510,528.64 in attorney’s fees racked up fighting the successfully blocked law.
Illinois district judge Matthew S. Kennelly issued a permanent injunction
regarding the implementation of the law last December.
The law, dubbed The Safe Games Illinois Act, would have required retailers to use warning labels in addition to the existing ESRB labels, as well as post signs within stores explaining the ESRB rating system. Sale of offending games to minors will earn stores a $1,000 fine on a petty offense, while failure to post explanatory signage will draw a $500 fine for the first three violations and $1,000 for each subsequent count.
"Judge Kennelly’s rulings send two irrefutable messages – not only are efforts to ban the sale of violent video games clearly unconstitutional, they are a waste of taxpayer dollars," said ESA president Douglas Lowenstein. "The sad fact is that the State of Illinois knew this law was unconstitutional from the beginning. Taxpayers have a right to know that over half a million of their dollars and countless government hours were thrown away in this fruitless effort."
"I am very disappointed that the state of Illinois has to pay these fees for what was such a clearly unconstitutional law from the start," said Senator Cullerton, Illinois 6th District State Senator. "When I spoke against the law in Springfield, I predicted we would have to pay legal fees. The amount ordered paid to the plaintiffs by Judge Kennelly doesn’t even count the substantial fees the State will have to pay its own lawyers.”
In his earlier decision in finding the law unconstitutional, Judge Kennelly found fault with the state’s argument that legislation is the answer to protecting children from inappropriate media. He wrote that, "If controlling access to allegedly 'dangerous' speech is important in promoting the positive psychological development of children, in our society that role is properly accorded to parents and families, not the State."
"As we said from the outset of this debacle and repeatedly since then, instead of squandering taxpayers’ money on frivolous lawsuits and attempting to enact clearly unconstitutional laws, we encourage policymakers to focus their resources on a cooperative effort with industry, retailers, parent groups and health groups to work together to educate parents about the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings and content descriptors, and the parental controls available in all next generation consoles to help parents make sound choices about the games their kids play," said Lowenstein.