The Printing Press to the Internet
1. Principles of Legal Reasoning and First Amendment Theory
C H A P T E R O N E Principles of Legal Reasoning and First Amendment Theory CONTROVERSY: It wasn’t California Senator Leland Yee’s intention to trigger a catalyst that would change First Amendment media law. But when he introduced a bill banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors in 2005, the final outcome would be the landmark ruling Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011). A landmark ruling creates a new and significant principle in a particular area of the law; such a ruling alters the legal landscape. Brown v. Entertainment Merchants is landmark because the Court said the First Amendment gives full protection to the video gaming medium. That declaration also set a legal precedent—a standard that lower courts must apply to cases raising the same legal questions. (All landmark rulings set precedents, though all legal precedents are not landmark rulings.) Now, because the U.S. Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority in the U.S., federal and state laws ban- ning the sale of violent video games to minors are presumed to infringe upon video game merchants’ and minors’ First Amendment free speech rights. It’s a presumption only because there is a remote chance that a legislature could craft a law restricting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors that would pass the Court’s toughest level of constitutional review, strict scrutiny. In reaching its decision to strike down the California law, the Court relied on precedent,...
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