The City of Charleston will continue to certify tour guides who pass a test while attorneys ask a federal judge to reconsider a recent court ruling that found the exams are unconstitutional.
"We believe in the merits of the mandatory tour-guide licensing program and will be filing a motion to reconsider the judge’s ruling shortly," city attorney Susan Herdina said in a statement Wednesday. "In the meantime, it is our hope that this voluntary program will help maintain the high quality of customers’ experiences when paying for a tour here in Charleston."
U.S. District Court Judge David Norton ruled on Aug. 3 that the city's requirement was an unnecessary burden on free-speech rights provided under the U.S. Constitution.
The city argued that regulation was necessary to protect the local tourism industry, a point it repeated Wednesday.
"Tour guide licensing successfully promoted the quality of the paying customer's experience, which is the foundation of the city's reputation as a top destination," it said.
After four days of arguments and testimony in April, Norton ruled that the city had not considered less restrictive ways to maintain quality, such as voluntary certification programs offered in Baltimore and Chicago.
The city has not said whether it will file a formal legal appeal if he declines to reconsider. It plans to reinstate the mandatory licensing requirement "if further judicial review allows it to do so."
A panel that provides City Council with advice about the tourism ordinance is scheduled to discuss licensing and certification at 5 p.m on Aug 22 at City Hall.