The state of Illinois was handed a huge defeat today as a federal judge threw out the controversial law the state had proposed limiting violent or sexually explicit game sales to minors.
U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly pulled no punches in tossing the law, saying the state came "nowhere near" demonstrating that the law was constitutionally binding. The states main argument, pushed forward by Governor Rob Blagojevich and his supporters, was that being exposed to games with a lot of killing or sex harmed children. Essentially, they said such material made a person more likely to commit the types of acts depicted.
The judge said the argument was bunk.
"In this country, the state lacks the authority to ban protected speech on the ground that it affects the listener’s or observer’s thoughts and attitudes," the judge wrote.
The Illinois law was set to go into effect on January 1st and would have barred stores from selling or renting extremely violent or sexual games to minors. Violators could have been fined up to $1,000.
Other states passed similar laws following the "hot coffee" incident where hidden sex scenes were found in copies of the popular Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas game. A similar law in California is also set to go into effect on January 1st and is also being challenged in court.
Opponents declared the Illinois law a restriction on free speech and pointed out that similar laws had been struck down in other states.
"It’s unfortunate that the state of Illinois spent taxpayer money defending this statute. This is precisely what we told them would happen," said David Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, one of the groups that sued over the law.