Setback in Attempt to Win Free Speech Rights for D.C. Tour Guides


Some discouraging news out of the Institute for Justice today on one of their cases, Edwards v. D.C., challenging the District's demand for a license they issue to guide tours, that is, to talk about the city as you move around it with an audience.

IJ's Bob Ewing informs me this morning that the judge in the case:

issued an order granting judgment for the District.  The case had been pending, with fully briefed motions for summary judgment, for about a year and a half without any action from the court.

The judge hasn't issued an opinion yet, but I assume he's basing his decision on grounds he articulated earlier in the case—namely, that he thinks D.C.'s regulations are restrictions on conduct, not speech, and so the First Amendment doesn't really apply.

This is incorrect—D.C. doesn't make it illegal to rent Segways to tourists and ride around town with them; it makes it illegal to communicatewith those tourists while you're riding.  That's protected speech, and we plan to appeal this decision to the D.C. Circuit. 

I blogged about the case in 2010.

IJ's dedicated site on the case.

IJ's video about the case: