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Holy Legal Hand Grenades! Comic Book Creators Say California Game Law Could Clobber All Media

Publication Date: 
September 17, 2010
Los Angeles Times Blogs
Alex Pham

Professor Michael McConnell is quoted in the LA Times on the case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, in which videogame makers contend a California law restricting the sale of violent videogames to minors violates their First Amendment right to free speech. Alex Pham filed this story:

Can a California video game law banning the sale of violent games to minors potentially spill over to other media? The comic book world thinks so.

In a brief filed Friday with the Supreme Court, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund urged the high court to reject the law, saying it "would undermine more First Amendment principles in a single case that any decision in living memory."


Michael McConnell, a constitutional law professor at Stanford Law School and a former federal judge, says the danger is real, but remote.

"I think [the Supreme Court justices] are going to take a good hard look at this, be tempted by the common sense of the statute, but leave well enough alone," McConnell said. "Tampering with free speech doctrine carries high costs with unpredictable effects."

But McConnell added that the high court rarely grants a hearing to a case that has been unanimously rejected in lower federal courts unless its Justices have an interest in reviewing, or reversing, the prevailing case law.

"This isn’t something that’s impervious to change," he said.