The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a California law that regulates the sale or rental of violent video games to children.
In a 7-2 decision, the court found that governments don’t have the power to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”
The ruling upheld an earlier federal appeals court decision that the state’s ban violated minors’ rights under the First Amendment.
Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the California law was “unprecedented and mistaken” and argued that there is a difference between protecting children from depictions of sex, and placing restrictions on depictions of violence.
“Certainly the books we give children to read—or read to them when they are younger—contain no shortage of gore,” Scalia wrote, citing Grimm fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, and Snow White.
The California law in question would have blocked the sale or rental of violent games to anyone under 18 years of age. As the Associated Press notes, retailers who violated the ban would have been subject to a $1,000 fine for each infraction.
The games at the center of the debate were ones like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Postal 2, Duke Nukem 3D and Mortal Kombat, according to ABC News.
"Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat,” Scalia wrote. “But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones."
Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer were the dissenters, arguing that the majority’s interpretation of the First Amendment in this case was too broad.
"The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that 'the freedom of speech,' as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors' parents or guardians," Thomas wrote.