Tourist guides in our nation’s capital now get to talk through what they’re walking through.
DC circuit Judge Janice Brown rules that Washington, DC, wrongly burdens First Amendment rights when it prohibits talking “about points of interest or the history of the city while escorting or guiding a person who paid you to do so — that is, unless you pay the government $200 and pass a 100-question multiple-choice exam.” Until her ruling, the city could jail guides for 90 days and/or fine you up to $300 for daring to walk and talk professionally without going through the hoops of regulation and licensing.
Chastising slovenly argumentation in other courts, Brown observes that the record is “wholly devoid of evidence” supporting bans on the speech of tour guides Tonia Edwards and Bill Main, the stand-up persons who challenged the requirements.
The suit’s prospects may have been enhanced by the freedom-of-speech angle. But although the importance of the First Amendment cannot be overstated, violating it is only one of many ways that governments infringe on our right to engage in peaceful productive activity. The assaults seem endless. Too many people are too unwilling to mind their own business, too eager to interfere with yours. So we must be eternally vigilant.
By “we” I largely mean — with respect to this case and thousands like it — the folks at Institute for Justice, who came to the aid of Edwards and Main, and who incessantly champion the rights of people seeking only to peaceably earn their bread.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.