In its press release on Tuesday the Institute for Justice announced it is going to bat for the freedom of tour guides in New Orleans to speak. The city currently has a law in place that says that “no person shall offer to act as a sightseeing tour guide on the roads, sidewalks, public spaces, or waterways of [the city] unless the person holds a valid sightseeing tour guide license.” Violation of the ordinance can result in a fine up to $300 and five months in jail.
Matt Miller, the lead attorney in the case brought by the public interest firm, stated firmly that “the government cannot be in the business of deciding who may speak and who may not. The Constitution protects your right to communicate for a living, whether you are a journalist, a musician or a tour guide.”
Under the law being challenged in court, freedom of speech isn’t free as obtaining a license to speak requires tour guides to take and pass a history exam, undergo a drug test and submit to an FBI criminal background check — every two years. Candance Kagan, the lead plaintiff in the case, survived Hurricane Katrina, but says now “I’m being knocked out of business again, this time by the city I love.”
The Institute for Justice has been fighting battles like these for 20 years with a remarkable, and reassuring, degree of success. They have a similar case pending in Washington, D.C. where local laws make it illegal for