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Leland Yee, The Man Behind California's Violent Games Crusade, Responds to Supreme Court Decision

While disappointed, Yee sees a path to challenging video games again.

Senator Leland Yee has been the chief advocate and architect of California's push against games.
Senator Leland Yee has been the chief advocate and architect of California's push against games.

If you've been following the history of Brown v. EMA, you know who California Senator Leland Yee is. Yee has been one of the most consistent critics of violent video games, and he's the one responsible for writing the law the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against this morning. Obviously, he disagrees.

"What has happened today is that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided it's going to side with corporate America and Wal-Mart against our children," said Yee, as part of a press conference held today in San Francisco. "Because of the rejection of the California law, these games will continue to be sold to our children, these games have a harmful effect to our children."

Yee is a Democrat representing California's San Francisco and San Mateo districts. He's also running for mayor of San Francisco.

Several of Yee's supporters were present at the press conference. One of the key facets of the court's decision today was its rejection of the link between games and violence in youth, finding the evidence lacking in proving games are any worse than other media.

"In the past, we've protected them [children] from alcohol, cigarettes and pornography and we felt that this was on that level," said George Fouras, MD, of the San Francisco Medical Society. "We're accumulating evidence that shows that exposure to violence does effect the behavior of children. In addition, we're concerned that the cognitive development of youth and their ability to process and make decisions appropriate doesn't occur at the ages that these children are able to obtain these video games. Unlike Saturday morning cartoons, these video games expose kids to behavior that is not acceptable in reality."

Yee said the "silver lining" in the court's decision was raising the level of public awareness on the issue. He's certainly right, in that respect. You can't go higher than the U.S. Supreme Court. Yee also noted success in getting the video game industry to better enforce the sale of M-rated video games and "has worked to clarify some of their wrongs in their ratings system."

As noted in my reporting on the court opinion, this decision does not rule out another challenge. In fact, Justice Alito seemed to explicitly map out a path to a challenge. Yee made note of that.

"[Alito] does in fact seem to be laying out a pathway to how we might be able to craft a bill that would stand the test of the First Amendment challenge," he said. "If we craft the bill differently, there may be a basis for trying to get another hearing within the Supreme Court on this particular matter."

The journey for this bill has lasted eight years, though. Another challenge won't happen overnight.

Patrick Klepek on Google+