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ESA: Dissent Doesn't Matter, SCOTUS Decision 'The Law of the Land'

ESA: Dissent Doesn't Matter, SCOTUS Decision 'The Law of the Land'

June 27, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

Though the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the video game industry in its historic decision Monday, some of the Justices remain doubtful. Justice Alito in particular expressed doubt that the effects of games are no different than literature, even though he himself voted against the law.

In a conference call Monday morning, representatives from the Entertainment Software Association addressed concerns that these doubts and dissenting opinions might one day cause the decision to be revisited by a new law, all but dismissing that possibility as fiction.

"The court does not overrule itself regularly," explained Paul Smith of Jenner & Block, the ESA's representative lawyer. "I don't think it's likely to happen."

"The law doesn't depend on whether or not there are dissents," he added. "It's my view as the lawyer here that any state that tries to pass a law is asking to pay my legal fees in the long run."

The majority opinion of the Supreme Court is the definitive law of the land, he assured attendees, and while there is a theoretical possibility that this law could be challenged in the future, the ESA doesn't see that happening.

"Just because it's possible to do something...doesn't mean it's wise to do it," said ESA president Michael Gallagher.

When asked repeatedly by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal (citing Justice Alito's doubtful opinion) whether the ESA might revise its stance if science and technology evolves and finds a casual link between video games and youth violence, the ESA bullishly denied that as a possibility.

"You could look at electric toothbrushes and microwave ovens and have the same concerns," said Gallagher. "I'm not going to deal in hypotheticals. Based on what we know right now, the court absolutely did the right thing."

Smith added that it's hard to imagine getting to the point where the government can decide what's "wholesome" instead of individuals, saying that the possibility is "quite scary," in any hypothetical situation.

"There is no link," said Gallagher, definitively, implying that there is not and never will be any causation between playing video games and violent social behavior.

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