The case against the City of Charleston’s tour guide licensing law was argued in federal court Thursday, but the judge deferred on making a decision on the case.
The Post and Courier newspaper reports three Charleston tour guides claim the city’s licensing requirements for the position violate their free speech rights because they must take and pass tests about Charleston’s history before they can work as paid tour guides.
Attorneys for the guides requested U.S. District Judge David Norton make an immediate summary judgement on the constitutionality of the licensing requirements. However, Norton did not make a decision Thursday, meaning he could instead send the case to trial.
According to the newspaper, the city tried to have the lawsuit dismissed in April 2016. Meanwhile, the tour guides’ attorneys unsuccessfully asked the judge to temporarily halt the licensing requirements until the case is decided. The judge ruled against both motions three months later.
The tour guides are being represented by attorneys from the nonprofit conservative organization Institute for Justice. The group has represented tour guides in similar situations in New Orleans, Savannah, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Of those cases, only the New Orleans licensing law was upheld in court.
Charleston’s licensing process has been in place for several decades.