SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Georgia’s oldest city violated the free-speech rights of excursion courses by requiring them to pass a written history take a look at and get a license, a federal judge stated in a ruling it is in large part symbolic for the reason that licensing regulation turned into scrapped years in the past.
The ruling Monday by using U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. Came extra than four years after tour publications in Savannah sued City Hall over the 1978 licensing ordinance. The tour guides argued city officials have been violating their First Amendment rights by way of finding out who became qualified to inform visitors approximately Savannah’s records and structure.
Savannah officers before everything defended the ordinance as vital to shield the city’s nearly $three billion tourism economy. But the city council ended up repealing the licensing requirement in October 2015 at the same time as the lawsuit was nonetheless pending.
Though the ruling goals an already defunct regulation, the Virginia-based Institute for Justice said it’s every other criminal victory after courts previously struck down comparable licensing requirements for tour courses in Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. The institution filed those lawsuits as well as the Savannah court docket assignment.
“In this us of a, we rely on humans to determine who they want to concentrate to,” Robert McNamara, an attorney for the institute, stated in a assertion Tuesday. “We do no longer rely on government to decide who gets to talk.”
Other towns inclusive of New York and New Orleans still have licensing laws for excursion publications on their books. The New Orleans law changed into upheld with the aid of a federal choose. Charleston has appealed a 2018 ruling that its ordinance become unconstitutional.
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One difficulty stays undecided within the Savannah lawsuit. Tour courses additionally challenged a $1-consistent with-person client tax that excursion guides are nevertheless required to pay to the metropolis. City officers say the money facilitates pay for preservation on Savannah’s historical monuments. Tour courses argue the tax is arbitrary due to the fact different groups that make the most of tourism do not must pay it.