Philadelphia Tour Guides

Tait v. City of Philadelphia
Philadelphia Tour Guides Stand Up For the Framers’ Vision of Freedom

IJ Clients Mike Tait, Ann Boulais and Josh Silver

Effective in October 2008, tour guides in Philadelphia will be subject to hundreds of dollars in fines for engaging in unauthorized talking.  A law enacted April 2008 will make it illegal for anyone to give a tour of much of the city’s downtown area without first getting the government’s permission to speak. 

The irony of forbidding people to talk about Philadelphia’s history—including the Declaration of Independence and Liberty Bell—is not lost on Mike Tait, Josh Silver and Ann Boulais, three Philadelphians who make their living by telling visitors and natives about the history, culture and architecture of the place they love. 

Simply put, the Constitution protects the right to communicate for a living, whether as a journalist, a musician or a tour guide.  That is why on July 2, 2008, Mike, Josh and Ann joined forces with the Institute for Justice to file suit challenging Philadelphia’s tour-guide licensing scheme as a violation of their fundamental constitutional rights.

Essential Background


Backgrounder: Philadelphia Tour Guides Stand Up For the Framers’ Vision of Freedom

Client Photos - none available

Client Video - none available

Latest Release: Philly Tour Guides Free to Speak—For Now Judge Forbids City from Enforcing Anti-Speech Law for Six Months  (October 6, 2008)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Decision: August 6, 2009

Launch Release: Tour Guides File Federal First Amendment Lawsuit; Seek to Vindicate the Freedom to Speak in Philadelphia (July 2, 2008)


Case Timeline

Lawsuit Filed:


July 2, 2008

Court Filed:


U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania



none available

Current Court:






Next Key Date:



Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

none available


none available

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Video: Philly Tour Guides Return to Federal Court; WUSA-CBS (January 6, 2011)

Video: Fox Philly: "The City of Brotherly Love" is Now "The City of No" Part 1; WTXF-FOX (November 8, 2011)

Article: Fighting for FREEDOM In the Constitution’s Birthplace; Liberty & Law (October 2008)

IJ Op-ed: City Council mustn't be allowed to trample on tour guides' speech Philadelphia Inquirer (July 2, 2008)

IJ Op-ed: Licenses For Tour Guides? Rubbish! Philadelphia Daily News (July 2, 2008)

Email Address
Please enter a valid email address

Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
Tel 703.682.9320, Fax 703.682.9321
© 1997-2015