SALT LAKE CITY — Just after the U.S. Supreme Court voted to strike down a California law regulating violent video games, one Utah lawmaker defended his own video game bill, but said he did not plan to pursue making the bill into law in the future.
Rep. Michael Morley, R-Spanish Fork, told the Deseret News that he felt his bill, which passed with broad support by the Utah Legislature in 2008, was very different from the California law that was struck down on Monday.
In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court found the California law violated the First-Amendment rights of minors. The law would have imposed a steep fine against any video game retailer who sells a mature-content game to a minor under 18.
Morley pointed out his bill did not impose a fine, but rather made it easier for parents to sue a business that advertised it did not sell violent games to minors but then did so. The bill would allow parents to sue under a claim of false advertising. The bill was vetoed by former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. with the support of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Both expressed concern over the negative impact to local businesses and free speech rights.
That position earned scorn from some lawmakers and the Utah Eagle Forum. On Monday, the Utah Eagle Forum blasted Shurtleff for supporting the Supreme Court's decision, and for failing to protect Utah's children from violent images depicted in some video games.
Shurtleff said that any form of government intervention into our lives should be considered with care and that he encourages parents to take an active role in what movies, music or video games they buy and play. "To say that he's anti-family, that's just ignorant," said Scott Troxel, spokesman for the attorney general. Troxel said protecting children has been the focus of Shurtleff's administration.
Morley said he feels his bill would have been deemed constitutional, but added he does not plan on moving forward with trying to get it put in the law books. "It's not on my radar to fight that fight," he said.