- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on a federal lawsuit challenging Charleston, South Carolina’s tour guide ordinance (all times local):

12:55 p.m.

A federal judge is mulling arguments in a lawsuit challenging an ordinance that requires those who get paid for giving tours of historic Charleston to have a city license.

Three plaintiffs have sued and want U.S. District Judge David Norton to issue an injunction blocking enforcement of the law. They say it violates their free speech rights.

But an attorney for the city told Norton on Tuesday the ordinance is not about free speech and anyone can say anything they want about the city’s buildings and history. The city contends the law amounts to a legal regulation of business and has asked Norton to dismiss the case.

Norton heard about 40 minutes of arguments in Charleston but gave no indication when he might rule.


7:30 a.m.

The latest round in the controversy over licensing tour guides in historic cities is scheduled to play out in a federal courtroom in South Carolina.

A judge holds a hearing Tuesday on a lawsuit challenging Charleston’s tour guide licensing ordinance. The suit contends requiring guides to have city licenses violates First Amendment protections of freedom of speech.

Attorneys for the city say that requiring guides to pass a written exam is simply about regulating business. City Council agreed last week to drop a requirement that would-be guides also pass an oral exam.

Other federal courts have split on the issue of tour guide licenses and free speech. A federal appeals court upheld a New Orleans license requirement although another court tossed out the District of Columbia’s licensing rule.

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