The U.S. Supreme Court has taken on another free speech case, further defining its limits in a period of technological explosion.

Last year, the court decided that corporations had free speech rights that could not be limited in the form of campaign finance spending caps.

Earlier this month, it struck down a federal law that banned the distribution of videos that showed animal cruelty.

Next up is an appeal of a California law that prohibits the sale and possession of ultra-violent video games by minors.

This is an area where this free speech court should find that it is appropriate to limit free speech.

The court should be able to distinguish between its other decisions. The Citizen United case dealt with political speech which should have the highest protection. The animal cruelty case dealt with videos distributed to adults who were not themselves involved in any illegal activity.

The court has already upheld laws that prohibit minors from possession pornography, alcohol and tobacco and should make the same distinctions in this case. Although there is well-established law prohibiting children from having sexually explicit material, there is very little around violence.

That is unfortunate, because exposure to extreme, realistic violence, especially in a video game in which the player takes the lead role, desensitizes children and creates a false impression that the behavior is normal. States should have the ability to limit children’s access to such games.

Even a court that has taken a broad view of freedom of speech rights should see that this is an example of where even a fundamental right can rightly be limited.


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