WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Friday in favor of tour guides in the nation's capital who challenged licensing regulations that require guides to pay the government $200 and to pass a 100-question multiple-choice exam.
The licensing requirement ensures that prospective guides are who they say they are and have at least a minimal grasp of the city's history and geography, the city has said in defending the rule.
But in a 3-0 decision on a free speech issue, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the city failed to present any evidence the problems it sought to thwart actually exist.
And the court said that even if the harms are real, there is no evidence the city's exam requirement is an appropriate antidote.
"The city has provided no convincing explanation as to why a more finely tailored regulatory scheme would not work," appeals Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the court.
The appeals judges noted that the multiple-choice questions fall into 14 categories: architecture; dates; government; historical events; landmark buildings; locations; monuments and memorials; museums and art galleries; parks, gardens, zoos and aquariums; presidents; sculptures and statues; universities; pictures and regulations.
Operating as a paid tour guide in Washington without a license is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.
Lawyers for tour guides Tonia Edwards and Bill Main argued that the licensing requirement was an unconstitutional restriction on their First Amendment rights. Edwards and Main provide tours to small groups of people renting Segway scooters.
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