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Court Overturns Illinois Game Bill

2 Dec, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

An Illinois law banning the rental or sales of so-called violent video games to persons under the age of 18 was overturned in federal court today. The new law was set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2006.

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law was filed last July by the Video Software Dealers Association, the Entertainment Software Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. The suit charged that the law violated the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and that the language of the law was too vague in a number of areas, including what legal determinations makes a game's content unsuitable for minors.

Federal District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in Chicago today agreed with the plaintiffs that the law was unconstitutional and issued an order permanently enjoining the law's enforcement. The judge was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times as saying state officials “have come nowhere near” proving their law can pass constitutional muster.

“Today's ruling that the Illinois video game law is unconstitutional is as gratifying as it was predictable,” said Bo Andersen, VSDA president. Andersen noted that federal courts have now handed down five decisions over the past four years that have overturned laws seeking to restrict the rental or sales of violent video games.

The VSDA and ESA have suits pending against similar laws that have been passed in Michigan and California. Earlier this week Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joseph Lieberman announced they will introduce a similar measure in Congress when it reconvenes in two weeks.

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