Philly Tour Guides Return to Federal Court





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Uploaded on Jan 6, 2011

CASE PAGE: http://ij.org/firstamendment/2198
PHILLY CITY STUDY: http://ij.org/citystudies/philadelphia

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED ~ NPR: http://n.pr/gmz65n
WALL STREET JOURNAL: http://on.wsj.com/f6RgSl

Tait v. City of Philadelphia

In 2008 the city of Philadelphia passed a law making it illegal to give a tour of the city without first passing a test and obtaining a special government license. The Institute for Justice filed a constitutional challenge to that law because the First Amendment protects your right to communicate for a living, and that's true whether you're a journalist or a stand up comedian or a tour guide.

In 2009, though, the city asked a federal district judge to dismiss that case without considering the constitutional argument because it said it didn't have the money allocated in its budget to start enforcing the law right then. The law was important and they intended to enforce it, they just hadn't allocated the money to enforce it immediately.

And that's why on Tuesday January 11, 2011, we'll be having an argument in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, making the simple point that the city's budget priorities cannot trump the Constitution. Government officials simply can't be allowed to hide in the bushes until they feel like jumping out and taking away your rights.

Philadelphia's tour guides have the right to speak freely without having to worry whether the city is going to start enforcing its licensing requirement in six weeks, six months or a year.

And that's why the Institute for Justice is determined to vindicate the First Amendment rights of ordinary Philadelphians to talk to each other about their city and its history. And to make clear to city officials, in court, that they do not have the power to fine people for unauthorized talking.

Institute for Justice Staff Attorney Robert McNamara


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