According to a report by the BCN news agency, the San Jose-based judge currently considering the legal challenge to the State of California's violent video game bill, while not yet having made a decision, has made a legal ruling that implies the bill may be struck down.
The in-progress story
indicates that U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte has ruled that the violent game law must be governed by "strict scrutiny", which grants the broadest protection to free speech rights. Previous laws in multiple States, including Michigan and Illinois, have been ruled unconstitutional
for 1st Amendment-related reasons.
Judge Whyte halted the bill's implementation
in December 2005, handing down a preliminary injunction halting bill AB1179 publically backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, that would restrict video game sales and require the unconstitutional and subjective labeling of video games.
Under the terms of AB1179, which would have come into effect on January 1, 2006, customers purchasing games with the label would be required to show ID; retailers who either did not check for ID or did not show the labels will be liable for a $1,000 fine per infraction.
In an interesting side note, BCN also reported that California Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini, arguing the case for the State, commented: "There is overwhelming evidence [for minors being affected negatively by video games], and it's supported by every major medical group,.'
The judge's ruling came as the overall case was being debated - however, it is not completely certain that the law will be stuck down, and a final decision on the law's constitutionality will be announced by Judge Whyte in the near future.