Louisiana Video Game Law Put On Hold By Federal Judge

An effort to put a stop to the sale of video games deemed socially as “violent” has been put on hold by a federal judge in Louisiana after video game makers filed suit that the law is unconstitutional and infringes upon the rights of minors.

Ars Technica: About two weeks ago, the Louisiana state legislature passed a law barring the sale of violent video games to minors. Governor Kathleen Blanco signed it into law late last week. Behind the legislation was anti-gaming-violence crusader Jack Thompson, who helped write the law and trumpeted its passage by saying that it addresses “all the complaints raised by federal courts which have struck down other video game laws.”

That may not be the case after all. Late last week, the Entertainment Software Association and Entertainment Merchants Association sued the state of Louisiana, arguing that the law was unconstitutional. Judge James J. Brady of the US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana today issued a temporary restraining order (PDF) barring its enforcement. A hearing on the possibility of granting a preliminary injunction will be held on June 30 (not the 27th, as stated in the order).

In a brief interview, Thompson said that he was not surprised by the judge’s action, saying that it is normal for a judge to preserive the status quo prior to the passage of the law when litigation is brought. He said that he and the state of Louisiana were “marshaling our facts and our cases.” He feels strongly that the law is constitutional as written, but remarked that it is impossible to “predict what a court is going to do.”

What is particularly interesting about the Louisiana legislation is that it tries to respond to previous court rulings by attempting to address First Amendment concerns raised in judicial review of other legislation. In particular, it uses the Miller test, which defines obscenity as something that by contemporary community standards appeals to the prurient interest; depicts sexual content specifically defined by state law in a patently offensive way; and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.