Court will not reconsider ruling on video game law

Staff Report

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit recently denied St. Louis County’s petition for rehearing en banc and for rehearing by the three-judge panel that had declared unconstitutional a coun-ty ordinance designed to limit minors’ access to violent or sexually explicit video games.

The county’s motion for rehearing en banc asked that the full court for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Cir-cuit reexamine the three-judge panel’s decision. The county also asked that the panel rehear the case.

Both requests were denied on July 9.

The county’s petition was not an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which already has refused to hear a similar case decided in the 7th Circuit.

Under the county ordinance, children under 17 would be prohibited from purchasing or renting violent or sexually explicit home video games without parental consent. The measure 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 Amendment.

The latest decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the 8th District reverses the earlier ruling and directs the district court to enter an injunction preventing the ordinance from going into effect.