CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The city of Charleston has filed an appeal at the next level in a federal appeals court in Virginia after a federal judge in Charleston decided its tour guide licensing law was unconstitutional last year.
The city had previously asked Judge David Norton to reconsider the August 2018 ruling, but he struck down that motion in December.
In order to become a licensed tour guide who can charge for tours, the law would have required people to pass a 200-question written exam. The questions came from information in a nearly 400-page manual that is provided by the City of Charleston.
“For over thirty years the City maintained a successful tour guide licensing regime to ensure tour guides were qualified to charge the public fees for their services City of Charleston attorney Carol Ervin said. "The City continues to believe a mandatory licensing program for all tour guides is the most effective way to achieve the City’s objective of protecting tourists, residents and the tourism industry from the problems caused by unqualified or unscrupulous guides. Despite the Court’s ruling in this case, the City is confident that the mandatory licensing process for tour guides previously in place did not violate the First Amendment, as other courts, including the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, have held. The City has therefore filed an appeal challenging the District Judge’s rulings in this case, and hopes to restore the successful mandatory licensing program as soon as possible.”