Charleston leaders have filed a legal request asking a judge to reverse his ruling that the city cannot require a license for paid tour guides, The Post and Courier reports.
A federal judge ruled last month that the policy was unconstitutional because tour guides are protected by free speech rights, even if the government does not like that speech. The city’s motion filed last week argues the decision should be changed because there was no alternative manner to protect its tourism industry without creating a worse inconvenience for guides.
It also argued the required exam is content neutral and, as a result, does not infringe on free speech. The city plans to continue giving the test for voluntary certification. Charleston’s major tour companies have said they will continue to only hire guides who have passed it.
The law was challenged by three would-be tour guides — Kimberly Billups, Michael Warfield and Michael Nolan — who recruited the libertarian group Institute for Justice for their legal assistance. IJ argued cities have the ability to regulate private tour guides through business licenses or industry certification, but legal precedent does not allow a government to prevent an individual from speaking in a public space if less restrictive means are available.
If the judge doesn’t change his ruling and it is appealed to a higher court, it could be years before a decision is made.