Gov's video games fight could cost $644,545
March 19, 2006
BY TRACY SWARTZ Sun-Times Springfield Bureau
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Blagojevich's unsuccessful battle to restrict violent and sexually explicit video game sales may cost taxpayers $644,545 in legal fees incurred by the software industry, according to court documents the group filed Thursday.
The state also paid an unknown amount to its own lawyers to defend a state law prohibiting such sales to minors, a law that was declared unconstitutional last December.
"It was clear to everyone that the proposal would be found unconstitutional and would waste taxpayers' dollars in a protracted legal fight that would leave parents no better off," Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, said in a statement.
The governor's office would not release its specific legal tab because the case is on appeal, said spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch. The state is also asking for a delay on making payments to the association.
"We think it's pretty outrageous that they're asking us to cover their legal fees when we're not done with the legal battle," Rausch said.
The law would have banned the sale or rental of violent and sexually explicit video games to people younger than 18. The law would have taken effect in January, but a U.S. District Court judge ruled in December that it would interfere with freedom of speech.
State Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago) voted against the legislation because he said it limited freedom of speech. He said he also knew the state would have to pick up a hefty legal tab when the law was declared unconstitutional.
"I told you so," said Cullerton.