County asks full court to review ordinance

St. Louis County recently filed a motion for rehearing en banc after a three-judge panel declared unconstitutional a county ordinance designed to limit minors’ access to violent or sexually explicit video games.

The motion for rehearing asks that the full court for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit re-examine the three-judge panel’s decision. This is different from an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court already has refused to hear a similar case decided in the 7th Circuit.

Under the county’s ordinance, children under the age of 17 would be prohibited from purchasing or renting violent or sexually explicit home video games without parental consent. It also would require businesses to separate graphic violence or strong sexual content games from the rest.

Less than two months after the ordinance was adopted in 2000, a federal lawsuit was filed by the Interactive Digital Software Association and other organizations challenging the constitutionality of the measure.

In an April 2002 opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Limbaugh ruled that the plaintiffs failed to meet the “burden” of showing that video games are a protected form of speech under the First Amend-ment. The latest decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the 8th District reverses the earlier decision and directs the district court to enter an injunction preventing the ordinance from going into effect.