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Illinois State Pays For Defeated Violent Video Games Bill

by Rainier on Aug. 10, 2006 @ 2:43 p.m. PDT

United States District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly ruled yesterday that the state of Illinois must pay the video game industry $510,528.64 in attorney's fees for its unconstitutional effort to enact a law banning the sale of violent video games.

"Judge Kennelly's rulings send two irrefutable messages -- not only are efforts to ban the sale of violent video games clearly unconstitutional, they are a waste of taxpayer dollars," said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the ESA, the trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. "The sad fact is that the state of Illinois knew this law was unconstitutional from the beginning. Taxpayers have a right to know that over half a million of their dollars and countless government hours were thrown away in this fruitless effort."

"I am very disappointed that the state of Illinois has to pay these fees for what was such a clearly unconstitutional law from the start," said Senator Cullerton, Illinois 6th District State Senator. "When I spoke against the law in Springfield, I predicted we would have to pay legal fees. The amount ordered paid to the plaintiffs by Judge Kennelly doesn't even count the substantial fees the state will have to pay its own lawyers."

The fees will be paid to the Entertainment Software Association, Video Software Dealers Association and Illinois Retail Merchants Association, plaintiffs in the lawsuit. In December 2005, the United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois handed down a permanent injunction halting the implementation of the new state law that would restrict video game sales. In his decision declaring the law unconstitutional, Judge Matthew S. Kennelly forcefully sided with the ESA, writing, "If controlling access to allegedly 'dangerous' speech is important in promoting the positive psychological development of children, in our society that role is properly accorded to parents and families, not the State."

"As we said from the outset of this debacle and repeatedly since then, instead of squandering taxpayers' money on frivolous lawsuits and attempting to enact clearly unconstitutional laws, we encourage policymakers to focus their resources on a cooperative effort with industry, retailers, parent groups and health groups to work together to educate parents about the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings and content descriptors, and the parental controls available in all next-generation consoles to help parents make sound choices about the games their kids play," said Lowenstein.

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