Charleston, S.C.—Judge David Norton of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina today affirmed his August 2018 decision protecting the First Amendment rights of Charleston tour guides. The city’s tour guide licensing law was challenged by three would-be tour guides—Kimberly Billups, Michael Warfield and Michael Nolan—who joined with the Institute for Justice (IJ) in January of 2016 to file a lawsuit alleging that the law amounted to an unconstitutional license to speak in violation of the First Amendment.
In an unusual legal request filed in September, attorneys for the City of Charleston asked the court to reconsider its ruling. Judge Norton, in his order denying the request, noted that the City’s motion “is nothing more than a request that this court change its mind, which this court declines to do,” further stating that “the City has presented no newly discovered evidence nor has it uncovered any manifest errors of law.”
“The First Amendment protects your right to speak for a living, whether you’re a journalist, a stand-up comedian or a tour guide,” said IJ attorney Arif Panju, who represents the plaintiffs. “That principle was vindicated following a weeklong trial, it was vindicated once again today, and we look forward to yet more victories for occupational speech in the months and years to come.”