When the State of Illinois was tardy in paying its legal bills after attempting to defend a law that regulated the sale of violent and sexually explicit video games, the Entertainment Software Association wondered about the reasons for the delay. Now they know: the state was scouring department budgets, looking for the $1 million it cost to defend the unconstitutional legislation in court. Yes, you read that right—the State of Illinois spent one meeeellion dollars of taxpayer money on the litigation even as the state budget was starved for cash in other, more pressing areas. And worse yet, they spent it on a bill which, when introduced, was plainly unconstitutional.
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The grand total was reported this week in a Quad Cities Online article which revealed that "the governor raided funds throughout state government to pay for the litigation. Some of the areas money was taken from included the public health department, the state's welfare agency and even the economic development department." A state representative who attended recent hearings on the issue said that Gov. Blagojevich's staff simply spread the legal bills around by sticking them to agencies which had funds left in their budgets—even if the agencies had nothing to do with the issue or the litigation.
The Illinois law in question was struck down by both a federal court and an appeals court. In the final decision on the case, the justices noted that the law used a set of simplistic criteria to evaluate video games. They even used God of War as an example of the law's failings.
"Because the (Illinois law) potentially criminalizes the sale of any game that features exposed breasts, without concern for the game considered in its entirety or for the game’s social value for minors, distribution of God of War is potentially illegal, in spite of the fact that the game tracks the Homeric epics in content and theme," the judges wrote.
Spending this sort of money on important causes is one thing; spending it on video game regulation approaches that have been repeatedly ruled unconstitutional in other states is quite another. The situation might be more understandable were it not for the fact that Illinois could have easily seen this coming, either by paying attention to what other states are encountering or by opening a dialogue with the likes of the ESA. Instead of taking that cautious approach, the Governor decided to press on, and now the taxpayers will bear that burden. The fact that some of the money was pulled from public health and welfare only makes the situation worse. original story -- arstechnica