Federal trial begins in Charleston tour guide "free speech" lawsuit

posted by Erica Lunsford, WCIV -

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The trial has begun for a 2016 federal lawsuit arguing the City of Charleston's tour guide licensing requirements are unconstitutional.

It's currently illegal in Charleston to host paid tours of the city without a business license.

As part of obtaining that business license, would-be tour guides also have to pass a written exam on the city's history, which is administered by the city.

The test consists of a two-hour, 200-question written exam based on the city's official 490-page tour guide training manual. A score of 70 is passing.

A group filed a lawsuit in 2016 arguing the ordinance goes against their 1st Amendment rights, because it amounts to the government deciding who will be permitted to speak to the public.

The city has argued the license requirements have nothing to do with free speech, and are solely about regulating business because the goal of these tours is to make money for the tour guides.

To see all of the exam requirements, click here.

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