Licensing and exam requirements for tour guides

Malla Pollack mallapollack at
Fri Jul 4 09:02:02 PDT 2008

But presumably you have no problem with requiring licensing (based on proof of competence) for history teachers?  This seems to me to be a statute preventing misleading or inaccurate commercial advertising -- by offering a tour you are implicitly claiming enough historical knowledge about Phili to provide a useful tour. 

The oddity is the lack of licensing for book authors -- presumably because (unlike tours) you can judge a book before buying it and because books are usually treated delicately because of First Amendment concerns.  

Malla Pollack
Barkley School of Law

----- Original Message ----
From: "Volokh, Eugene" <VOLOKH at>
To: conlawprof at
Sent: Friday, July 4, 2008 10:02:52 AM
Subject: Licensing and exam requirements for tour guides

    The Institute for Justice is challenging Philadelphia's new
requirement ( that
tour guides be licensed and take special history exams.  IJ seems to be
exactly right on this: such a requirement violates the First Amendment,
yes?  I take it that the government couldn't require that authors of
history books or travel books be licensed and take exams; nor can it
require the same as to theaters that present history/geography-related
informational entertainment (except that it could set up content-neutral
licensing requirements for non-content-related reasons, such as making
sure that the theater is properly fire-safe, or for that matter that the
tour guide operator has licensed drivers and adequate accident
insurance).  How could the answer be any different for tours, which are
likewise a form of history-/geography-related infotainment?  Or am I
missing something here?

    (There are, of course, similar requirements for professionals
who provide individualized advice to clients on important matters, such
as law, medicine, psychology, or finance, but here there is no
individualized advice nor the high stakes involved in typical advising

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