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Judge nixes forcing Charleston history test on tour guides

CHARLESTON (AP) A federal judge says Charleston can’t force tour guides to prove they know the history and architecture of the nearly 350-year-old South Carolina port city.

News organizations report U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled Aug. 3 that Charleston’s tour-guide licensing law violates constitutional free speech rights. The city required hired tour guides to pass a licensing test based on a nearly 500-page manual written by the Historic Charleston Foundation.

One would-be guide complained the book covered facts about 2,000 different houses.

Charleston’s attorneys argued in court that tour guides can say what they want, but the city wanted them to know Charleston’s past since that’s why tourists visit.

But the judge said there’s no evidence the city tried to assure quality tours by using less burdensome methods.

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