City attorney: Tour licenses regulate business, not speech

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Attorneys say Charleston's ordinance requiring tour guides to have a license has nothing to do with restricting freedom of speech but is about regulating business.

Three people asked a federal judge earlier this year to find the licensing requirement unconstitutional. Their lawsuit argues that granting tour licenses only to those who pass written and oral exams violates First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.

The city's response this month says people can say anything they want about Charleston's historic buildings. The city says a license is only required for tour guides charging for their services to make sure they have minimum qualifications.

A hearing is set for next month.

The issue of licensing tour guides has been playing out in several historic cities nationwide, including New Orleans and Savannah, Ga.