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ESA Wants Money From Illinois 151

ESA President Doug Lowenstein is pushing the state of Illinois to pay for the ESA's substantial legal bills, the result of their fight to defeat the Illinois game ban. From the Next Generation article: "From the day Governor Blagojevich announced that he would seek anti-video game legislation, 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 ... That is precisely what happened. As we said from the outset, we would have preferred to spend our resources on cooperative programs to help parents ensure their kids play appropriate games, rather than divert money to respond to politically motivated attacks on video games. But the State has left little choice, and this petition is consistent with the rules of the federal courts regarding award of attorney's fees to prevailing parties."
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ESA Wants Money From Illinois

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  • by szembek (948327) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:36PM (#14934079) Homepage
    ESA = Entertainment Software Association. Their Website: http://www.theesa.com/ [theesa.com]
  • Done, and done. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by biggyfred (754376) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:38PM (#14934104)
    Absolutely. You want to pass obviously unconstitutional legislation? Your consitutents can pay the bills. After enough money down the tube, perhaps they'll think twice before electing you again.
    • We didn't want to elect him the first time. He was actually the lesser of two evils. Illinois' problem is that we never get politicians running for office that aren't horribly incompetent, morally bankrupt, or otherwise just plain awful.
      • We didn't want to elect him the first time. He was actually the lesser of two evils.

        The real problem is that our election system doesn't really make elections with more than 2 real candidates feasible. You end up with the Nader dilemma anytime a serious third candidate enters the race. Until we move to a sensible election system, we will continue to have this problem. The problem is that the two parties will fight tooth-and-nail, lie, cheat, and steal to keep the current system. At least with that sys

        • Re:Done, and done. (Score:2, Insightful)

          by fufubag (935599)
          The problem isn't that the two parties won't allow it, it is that the public is way too lazy to and ignorant to check into the viability of any other candidates. Until the extra parties can find a leader capable of pulling together a bunch of brain dead sheep, we will be stuck with two losers every few years.
          • it is that the public is way too lazy to and ignorant to check into the viability of any other candidates. Until the extra parties can find a leader capable of pulling together a bunch of brain dead sheep, we will be stuck with two losers every few years.

            People don't vote for third parties. The republicans will say "look what happened with Perot! You'll throw away your vote and the Democrats will win!". The Democrats will say "look what happened with Nader! You'll throw away your vote and the Republic

            • What we need is for Perot and Nader to run at the same time. If we can keep symmetry in the left/right spectrum, then the "throwing away your vote" aregument carries much less weight.
              • What we need is for Perot and Nader to run at the same time. If we can keep symmetry in the left/right spectrum, then the "throwing away your vote" aregument carries much less weight.

                That would be nice, but we shouldn't have to rely on that. We should just fix the system.

                • Guys, here's a sugestion for getting a serious third party. START AT THE LOCAL LEVEL. Get people as a state and county/town/city legislator and judges. Then get federal congressmen and senators elected along with state governors, then make a play for the White House. Trying to do otherwise is an idiotic move because you won't have any support base.
                  • Guys, here's a sugestion for getting a serious third party. START AT THE LOCAL LEVEL. Get people as a state and county/town/city legislator and judges.

                    While local level elections are easier to get a third party into, it still uses the same retarded election system. It still needs to be fixed. And we'd rather not wait 10-20 years to get a candidate into congress or the presidency.

                    • Then continue to expect dissapointment. You need a base level support to get someone into the presidency. That comes from having state and local officials to campaign for your candidate. It also allows your candidate to get some experience and recognition prior to running for president. How many presidents in the past hundred years have not been governors, senators or VPs prior to winning? I can only think of one, Eisenhower.
                    • None of that matters. It doesn't take magic to become a president. Currently it mostly just takes an assload of cash and promises to the right people. Even someone like Wesley Clark would have been a decent choice for president probably. If he or someone else could run independently of the parties, and therefore not have to sell their souls in the primaries, they could get elected. That would require that we change the election system though so that we don't have the damn vote-splitting problems.


            • People don't vote for third parties. The republicans will say "look what happened with Perot! You'll throw away your vote and the Democrats will win!". The Democrats will say "look what happened with Nader! You'll throw away your vote and the Republicans will win!".

              One third of Canada's population voted for third-parties [www.cbc.ca] (counting independants as a party). Not only that, but each vote qualified as a "$1.50" donation to the party - which guarentees that the vote wasn't wasted.

              A few elections ago, it was

              • Tactical voting is all well and good, but it's a band-aid on a system that is broken by design. People shouldn't have to try to calculate who is more likely to win a certain race, and there shouldn't have to be coordination on a large scale like some of the examples given in that wiki. Having people simply rank their choices on the ballot would fix the whole problem quite easily. No one throws away their vote by voting their conscience, and it doesn't require the coordination or strange and error-prone c

      • we never get politicians running for office that aren't horribly incompetent, morally bankrupt, or otherwise just plain awful.


        There are other kinds?
        • Oh, yeah, plenty of other kinds. I wouldn't say that Blago's awfulness is due to incompetence or immorality. He is probably the epitome of a "divider, not a uniter" politician, because he is power-hungry, hates everything that he can't control and presents himself as a populist crusader and anyone that holds power that he wants as an "enemy"/"corporate whore"/whatever.

          That said, he probably was the best candidate in all the elections he won.
      • Seriously, that's why I moved from Illinois to California - here we have respectable government figures!

    • It's not just an Illinois thing. Living in Houston, I get to witness the trainwreck that is local politics as Tom DeLay looks likes he's going to be reelected. People don't really learn.
    • Absolutely. You want to pass obviously unconstitutional legislation? Your consitutents can pay the bills. After enough money down the tube, perhaps they'll think twice before electing you again.
      There should be penalties for passing anticonstitutional laws.

      Something like barred from office for life for proposing the law, and being kicked-out of office at once for voting for someone else's law.

    • No, the judge will be unelected. The legislators will get re-elected for having the "courage" to "stand up" to those "evil out-of-state game companies trying to corrupt our children." The incumbents will ride in on the martyrdom ticket.
  • Illinois (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pranadevil2k (687232) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:39PM (#14934113)
    I live in Illinois, and we're a damn poor state. The politicians can't have a press conference without saying something about how far in debt we are. That said, I'm not sure what side of this I'm on. Our governor was a total idiot for introducing the bill in the first place, and the ESA is right that most of the time when someone loses a lawsuit they have to pay the legal fees associated with the case... but we've already wasted taxpayer dollars on the bill itself and the court costs. Now they're asking for more money. I guess my state just needs to learn how to not be stupid.
    • Re:Illinois (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MjrTom (68324)
      I'm in Illinois too. The state may be hurting for cash, but the politicos shure aren't. I think that maybe a bill forcing politicians who pass unconstitutional laws to pay the legal bills associated with striking those laws down.

      Of course that law would also be unconstitutional, so I guess that it would never fly.
      • Re:Illinois (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sqlrob (173498) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:41PM (#14934788)
        Actually, I'd like to see a federal law where if you propose an unconstitutional law, or vote for enough of them, you are banned completely from politics.
        • Re:Illinois (Score:3, Funny)

          by sesshomaru (173381)
          I propose the Damocles Amendment [wikipedia.org] to the Constitution. Any politician who willfully supports or votes for obviously unconstitutional legislating gets chopped in half with a sword.
        • Re:Illinois (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MjrTom (68324)
          It would be found to be in conflict with the first amendment to the US Consitution.
          • Re:Illinois (Score:4, Interesting)

            by sqlrob (173498) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @03:39PM (#14936060)
            Just make it an impeachable offense (it is abuse of the public trust), then the Constitution itself covers the banning.
          • So long as the Damocles Amendment makes it clear that it overrides the First Amendment, the First Amendment is no barrier. Existing parts of the Constitution don't constrain amendments (except, of course, the parts that specify the amendment process).

          • It would be found to be in conflict with the first amendment to the US Consitution.

            Someone does not understand Free Speech.

            If a jury unanimously ginds a criminal defendant Not Guilty, it is not a matter of First Amendment Free Speech for a Judge engaging in an official act on the bench to declare him guilty and have him hauled off to prison.

            An official act submitting an unconstitutional bill for government action is not Free Speech. An official act of voting to establish or reject that unconstutional bill i
      • Of course that law would also be unconstitutional, so I guess that it would never fly.

        How would such a law be unconstitutional?
      • I think that maybe a bill forcing politicians who pass unconstitutional laws to pay the legal bills associated with striking those laws down. Of course that law would also be unconstitutional, so I guess that it would never fly.

        So make it a constitutional ammendment.
    • Re:Illinois (Score:5, Funny)

      by el_diavalo (582943) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:04PM (#14934387) Homepage
      I guess my state just needs to learn how to not be stupid. Hi. I live in New Orleans. My state wins.
    • Being in debt is the best way to learn how to manage money properly.

      When the politicians involved have to deal with smaller bugdets and large debts they will be better at managing money in the future and likely spend less on frivolous laws. That is, unless the population of the state agress with the law in question, in which case this kind of thing will continue indefinitely.
      • Except, the politicians are not in debt, they are not spending or managing their money. They externalize the costs of their decisions to the taxpayers. This is Similar to the 'public commons' problem except it is the tax payers money instead of communal land that effected. Maybe government budgets need to be reorganized such that the budget is analyzed on a bi-weekly basis and if there is money left over, then and only then do the politicians get paid. Bi-weekly budget shortfall? Sorry kids its Tuna He
    • Re:Illinois (Score:2, Insightful)

      by smokes2345 (959661)
      Exactly, you state needs to learn to stop trying to pass stupid legislation that they know will only waste time and money. It doesn't matter how poor your state may be, your government decided to waste the money. The ESA should be compensated, if you don't like it make better decisions at your elections.
    • Re:Illinois (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Castar (67188)
      Well, that's the point the ESA is trying to make. They don't need the money, they want people to realize that trying to pass unconstitutional anti-game legislation is a *bad idea*: it only costs the state money. They're doing this to raise awareness of that fact among voters, in the hopes that the next person to propose something like this gets shouted down by his constituents.
    • Now they're asking for more money. I guess my state just needs to learn how to not be stupid.

      Maybe try protesting against gubernatorial candidates that like to grandstand with moronic legislation like this. Hold them accountable for the money they are costing your state!

    • Apparently, ESA tried to get some kind of arrangement with Illinois on this, but they couldn't. So, the only way out is a lawsuit, to set a precedent.
    • Maybe it'll make the news and your governor can foot the bill himself. After all, ESA can-t be penalised just because Illinois is stupid and poor at the same time.
  • While I agree that the law was idiotic (and I'm in Illinois), this is a just kicking the other guy while he's down. You won. You should have won, and you did. Be done with it.

    If it was such an obvious no-brainer that the law was unconstitutional, then you really didn't need to spend so much money on the legal battle, right?

    I just think this is a little unneccesary and just throws more gasoline on the fire (that doesn't need to be there) between the legislative types and the game industry.
    • by OmniGeek (72743) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:10PM (#14934448)
      Consider the hypothetical case where YOU were the personal victim of an unconsitutional law, and spent lots of your $$ defeating it in court. Now you're out lots of YOUR money because the state did something illegal. What's to prevent them from doing it again and again 'till you're destitute and can no longer afford to fight and win, or until you give up and accept the unconstitutional law to remain solvent? Either way, the state accomplishes by attrition what they cannot do under law.

      As for the obviousness argument, it's irrelevant just how obviously bad the law is -- you either have to sue and spend what it takes to finish the litigation, or shut up and accept the bad law; there's no third option.

      The award of attorney's fees paid by the loser makes it untenable to pursue such a win-by-losing strategy -- or at least, it's intended to do that. Think of it as a check on frivolous litigation (and lawmaking, if the principle is, IMHO reasonably, applied to situations like this).

      It IS a shame that the state's taxpayers have to pay for their government's folly, but then, they DID elect those folks in the first place. That seems a lesser ill than the above scenario where the victim pays for it. (And no, it DOESN'T matter that the victim is a trade organization and not an individual; the fundamentals don't change.) Out wit da bums...

      • Exactly. If you feel that its not right your money is being spent now paying off the stupidity of your lawmakers, then maybe YOU should do something about it and not elect idiots in the first place.

        Look it how much people disliked Bush after the first election, once the dust settled... He ran on this platform of things are getting better even when common sense told everyone no they wheren't and what happened? He won and things are worse.

        I would bet you 100 bucks if he where to run tomorrow enough people

        • People see politics like sports these days. It's not about who's the right one for the job, or who's honest or not. It's all about rooting for your team and bashing the other team. That's all there is to it anymore.

        • I would bet you 100 bucks if he where to run tomorrow enough people would STILL elect him President despite that fact.

          The last election was extremely close, and Bush's latest approval polls have hit 33%. He has lost ALL of the independants, and now even substantial percentage of Republicans are finally Losing The Faith and defecting.

          If the election were today, a turnip could beat Bush.

          It was really rotten timing on the election, and that Kerry rated only slightly above a turnip. Heh.

          -
    • You won. You should have won, and you did. Be done with it.

      Why shouldn't they get their money back? The state shouldn't have passed such a law to begin with, but it did, and the ESA had to spend a lot of money to fight it.

      If it was such an obvious no-brainer that the law was unconstitutional, then you really didn't need to spend so much money on the legal battle, right?

      Lawyers are always expensive. Even in no-brainer trials, you have to try your absolute best, because if youi don't, the other guy will fin
  • by MdntToker (560684) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:53PM (#14934260)
    Spend all of the ILL Govt's money defending no-win lawsuits, so they can't afford any further investigations of corruption into his office. Brilliant!!
  • by rewinn (647614) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:56PM (#14934298) Homepage

    I sympathize with ESA's substantive postion, but: it's a bad idea for the courts to award legal fees for overturning laws passed by the people's legislature.

    That's bad for democracy.

    Of course, I REALLY would like my legal fees to be paid for overturning the laws that I know to be bad. That would be fair, right, just and valid! But I do not want people I disagree with to get the same sort of fees for overturning laws that I know are good.

    Democracy is messy. ESA may deserve to win, but does not deserve to win without paying the price.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I do not want people I disagree with to get the same sort of fees for overturning laws that I know are good.

      If they are good laws, then how will they get overturned?

      ESA may deserve to win, but does not deserve to win without paying the price.

      So basically, you have to put up with bad laws unless you have lots of money for a lawsuit? That doesn't sound very democratic.

      Sorry, you're doing more to argue for reimbursement than against.

      • >So basically, you have to put up with bad laws unless you have lots of money for a lawsuit? That doesn't sound very democratic.

        I don't mean to be offensive, but you seem to be defining "Democracy" as "only good laws survive; bad laws are destroyed". That would be a rather naiive definition, don't you think?

        The legislature has the right to pass laws, even bad laws; that's democracy. If it's really a bad law, the people hurt by it will just have to fight it, either in the legislature or in the courts.

        • The legislature has the right to pass laws, even bad laws; that's democracy

          Correct; that's democracy. We don't live in a democracy, though. We live in a Constitutional republic. That means that the legislature most certainly does NOT have the right to pass laws of this nature.

          Unfortunately, there are no consequences for legislators who make illegal laws. That's something we desperately need to fix at both the state and Federal levels.
          • >That means that the legislature most certainly does NOT have the right to pass laws of this nature.

            The legislature has the right to pass laws, period. The legislature can and does have the right to pass contradictory, non-sensical, idiotic and even unconstitutional laws. That's well established and no number of postings even on Slashdot can change that.

            Courts have the right to overturn unconstitutional laws. The system works. For the courts to penalize the legislature is a massive change in our cons

            • by John Miles (108215) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:18PM (#14935226) Homepage Journal
              The legislature has the right to pass laws, period. The legislature can and does have the right to pass contradictory, non-sensical, idiotic and even unconstitutional laws. That's well established and no number of postings even on Slashdot can change that.

              What part of "Congress shall make no law" are you having trouble with?
              • What part of "Congress shall make no law" are you having trouble with?


                What (legally) prevents the constitution from being amended with something that strikes the first amendment?

                No man's life, liberty, or security is guarenteed when congress is in session.
                • What (legally) prevents the constitution from being amended with something that strikes the first amendment?

                  Well we were talking about Congress. So the answer is that the Constitution prohibits Congress from striking the First Amendment.

                  It takes a Constitutional Convention to amend, or passage of 3/4th of the state legislatures.

                  -
            • The legislature has the right to pass laws, period.

              False. That's like saying the police have the right to shoot people, period. The legislature is granted the power to pass the laws and only those laws that the Constitutional grants them the power to pass.

              There is simply no current meaningful penalty in place for legislators who act illegally in such manner.

              Obviously good faith mistakes and misinterpertations will happen, but a legislator who repeatedly acts in contempt of the Constitution is entirely deser
        • Except... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by chaboud (231590)
          It appears that you're the one asserting victory without proof.

          He largely doesn't have to say anything because your point is completely, on its face, absurd.

          It's not a matter of whether a law is good or bad. It's a matter of a law being unconstitutional, thus violating the protections that we put in place for the rights of entities in this nation. If those protections are provided only to those capable of funding a fight against the legislature, protection is only provided for the wealthy.

          If the legislatu
          • > If the legislature is forced to pay for attempts at violating the rights of others, that legislature *should* be less likely to make such attempts.

            Do you *really* think that a legislature will modify its behavior because it has to shell out, what, a million buck or so? That's not even pocket change in the state budget of Illinois.

            And the Constitutional principle .. . despite your ad hominem attacks ... stands unchallenged. The legislature has the right to pass any legislation it wants; the courts h

            • The legislature has the right to pass any legislation it wants; the courts have the right to strike down the legislation.

              Legislators are supposed to uphold the Constitution. If they don't know or understand the Constitution, and they're writing laws that ignore the Constitution and even legal precedent, then they deserve to pay for the costs of those that have to fight to overturn the bad law in court.

            • So... you're arguing then that I have the right to break any and all laws at my own whim, and the courts have the right to try and convict me for these laws? You have a peculiar way of looking at things.
        • The legislature has the right to pass laws, even bad laws; that's democracy.

          No, they have to right to pass laws which are constitutional. Unconstitutional laws should be destroyed. FWIW, we aren't living an a democracy either, its a republic.
          • FWIW, we aren't living an a democracy either, its a republic.

            Only if your knowledge of politics is based on Sid Miers' Civilization. The US is a federal democratic republic with a president elected through inderect democracy as the head of a nation made up of a number of states many of which provide at least some form of direct democracy, and most of which are representative democracies.

            Democracy and republic are not mutually exclusive.
    • I sympathize with ESA's substantive postion, but: it's a bad idea for the courts to award legal fees for overturning laws passed by the people's legislature. That's bad for democracy.


      No. Purposefully passing unconstitutional legislation is bad for democracy. We shouldn't have to strike that sort of bullcrap down.
      • >Purposefully passing unconstitutional legislation is bad for democracy.

        Many laws are subject to some constitutional challenge. Where would you draw the line?

    • I sympathize with ESA's substantive postion, but: it's a bad idea for the courts to award legal fees for overturning laws passed by the people's legislature. That's bad for democracy.

      Maybe, but it would be worse if legislators who pass unconstitutional legislation get reelected. The best way to prevent this is if their constituents feel the consequences of their legislators' actions. The most direct way to let the constituents feel it is with their wallets.

      • >it would be worse if legislators who pass unconstitutional legislation get reelected. .... The most direct way to let the constituents feel it is with their wallets.

        I sincerely hope that the voters of Illinois clean house, but don't you think it would be bad for the court to use its power to affect how people vote?

        Democracy is messy by design!

    • The state shouldn't be paying the bill for repealing unconstitutional legislation, the dumbfucks that pass blatantly unconstitutional bills should. Elected officials swore oaths to uphold the law, they violated their oath, they ought to be held accountable.
    • Political Intrigue. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Stephen Samuel (106962) <samuel@@@bcgreen...com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:08PM (#14936300) Homepage Journal
      Apparently it's relatively standard practice in situations like this. Supposedly, they even had an agreement on the ammount. What the ESA seems to squawking about is that the government wanted to put an NDA on the payment so that taxpayers wouldn't know what they were paying for this fiasco.

      The government is going to be in a tight spot with this lawsuit. If they've already agreed on the $600K ammount, their only defence is going to be that they were willing to pay the ESA extra money to hide how much this cost. I'm sure that they'll be happy to admit that.

    • So what you are saying is that the government should be allowed to take our constitutional rights away, and only people with millions of dollars to spend in legal fees should be allowed to fight it?
    • "That's bad for democracy."

      Public resonsibility and accountability is bad for democracy?

      Would you happen to be a Member of Congress, by any chance?
    • it's a bad idea for the courts to award legal fees for overturning laws passed by the people's legislature.

      That's bad for democracy.


      Excuse me? What is bad for democracy is the legislature passing illegal laws in the first place!

      The legislature passing laws that they that have no power to pass. Passing laws that the Constition prohibits them from passing.

      When the government attempts to enforce an illegal law against someone, that person is an innocent victim of illegal government action. It is entirely appro
    • There are a bunch of things you have wrong, and some contradictory as well.

      First, the courts are not "awarding legal fees for overturning laws passed by the people's legislature", they are being asked to award fees sustained in running an successful legal suit.

      The result of the suit is that the law is shown to be unconstitutional and the state is enjoined from enforcing that law, but that is the proper procedure for overturning unconstitutional laws.

      In addition, according to TFA, "But the State has left lit
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:59PM (#14934334)
    When the parent post says "maybe the citizens should think twice about electing him", it shows a complete lack of knowledge about Illinois politics.

    Seriously, the only competent politician in this state (and I live in Ill) is Obama.

    Our last governor is on trial for corruption, Blagojevich is a clueless idiot, and the republican challengers this year are a joke.....

    It's not like we have a lot of options here people!

  • Ok... (Score:2, Funny)

    by EmperorKagato (689705) *
    I live in this state. What the reigning hell is going on? I didn't vote for you or this.
    • Re:Ok... (Score:3, Funny)

      by shotfeel (235240)
      Sure you did! At least according to the records in 13 of the 14 voting districts where you cast your ballots in the last election.
  • Wrong headline (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:30PM (#14934660)
    "ESA wants to demonstrate that unconstitutional legislation costs the taxpayer money."
  • So, in order to bring to light the fact that this crazy piece of legislature was a waste of taxpayer money, ESA wants the tax payers to pay them for fighting the wasted tax payer money?

    Did I get that right? WTF?

    -bZj
  • I'm happy the ESA is taking a stand against badly written laws that seek to ban or limit video games in various states. Their efforts have been instrumental in overturning several other similar laws.

    Even so, I find myself wondering what will happen if action is taken regarding the Family Entertainment Protection Act, a Senate bill sponsored by Senators Clinton and Lieberman. That bill legislates a cash penalty (or community service) to back up enforcement of the ESRB standards. The ESA created the ESRB in 1
  • Almost all of the statutes on the books are unconstitutional in some way. Almost all of Illinois,'s criminal code isn't enforceable in the form in the books, for example. Passing unconstitutional laws is pretty par for the course, and that's fine. Per se unconstutional laws are rarely passed, and people can use the ruling to craft doctrines around the unconstitutionality. Give me a break.

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