SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston offers a lengthy and highly detailed preview of next week's oral arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, which centers on a California law banning the sale or rental of "violent" video games to children under 18:
The Court may already have signaled that it does see a problem with violent video games and their potential impact on children, simply by taking on the California appeal when there was no split in the lower courts on the issue. If that perception exists and if it represents a majority view, the argument between the two sides over whether the scientific data now available proves the point (or does not prove it at all) may have little effect. The Justices may be prepared to move on to the harder question of what to do about it….
On the other hand, the Court has demonstrated that it finds virtue in caution when confronting the social effects of new media. Perhaps there is a member of the Court who actually plays a video game (or knows well someone who does), but the chances are that the Justices are not closely familiar with what is available now in the universe of such games. The briefs on the side of the trade associations make a major effort to acquaint the Justices with the enormous diversity that does exist in that marketplace of ideas. If that effort succeeds, it could well raise cautionary flags about the difficulty in crafting a definition of video violence that would not seriously curtail this mode of expression — not just for children, but for adults as well.