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Washington tour guides win appeals court ruling

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 27, 2014 at 1:02 pm •  Published: June 27, 2014
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A federal judge had ruled in favor of the city, saying the requirement placed only incidental burdens on speech that were no greater than necessary to further the District of Columbia's substantial interest in promoting the tourism industry.

The appeals court reversed, saying it found the record devoid of evidence supporting the burdens the challenged regulations impose.

The appeals court panel said the city "rehearses a plethora of harms it claims to forestall with the exam requirement" — including unscrupulous businesses, visitors vulnerable to unethical or uninformed guides, tourists treated unfairly or unsafely, tourists who are swindled or harassed, tour guides abandoning tourists in some far-flung spot or charging them additional amounts to take them back.

The panel said that despite the city's "seemingly talismanic reliance on these asserted problems," the record contains no evidence that ill-informed guides are actually a problem for the city's tourism industry.

"The First Amendment protects everyone who talks for a living, whether you're a journalist, a professor or a tour guide," Robert McNamara, an attorney in the case, said after Friday's ruling.