Freedom to tell tales? Tour license dispute before judge

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The latest round in the controversy over licensing tour guides in historic cities is scheduled to play out in a federal courtroom in South Carolina.

A judge holds a hearing Tuesday on a lawsuit challenging Charleston's tour guide licensing ordinance. The suit contends requiring guides to have city licenses violates First Amendment protections of freedom of speech.

Attorneys for the city say that requiring guides to pass a written exam is simply about regulating business. City Council agreed last week to drop a requirement that would-be guides also pass an oral exam.

Other federal courts have split on the issue of tour guide licenses and free speech. A federal appeals court upheld a New Orleans license requirement although another court tossed out the District of Columbia's licensing rule.

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