NOLA Tours

Kagan v. City of New Orleans
Challenging New Orleans’ Tour-Guide Licensing Scheme

New Orleans tour guide Candance Kagan

Institute for Justice tour guide client Candance Kagan

NOLA Tours video

 Video: New Orleans Bureaucrats Silence Speech, Tour Guides Fight Back

In New Orleans, it is a crime to charge people for a talking tour without first getting permission from the government.

City officials require every tour guide to pass a history exam, undergo a drug test and an FBI criminal background check every two years merely for speaking. People who give tours without a license face fines up to $300 per occurrence and five months in jail.

The First Amendment does not allow the government to be in the business of deciding who is—and who is not—allowed to speak about various topics. That is why four New Orleans tour guides have joined with the Institute for Justice in a federal lawsuit seeking to secure their free speech rights.

Vindicating this principle would help protect the rights of countless people across the country that speak for a living—whether they speak as news reporters, stand-up comedians or tour guides. This lawsuit was filed on December 13, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

On June 2, 2014, the Fifth Circuit ruled against the tour guides on their First Amendment claims. The tour guides appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to take the case.

Essential Background


Backgrounder: Talk of the Town: Challenging New Orleans’ Tour-Guide Licensing Scheme

Client Video


Client Photos
Launch Release: Tour Guides File Federal First Amendment Lawsuit; Seek to Vindicate the Freedom to Speak in New Orleans (December 13, 2011) 
Latest Release: U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Tour-Guide Lawsuit (February 23, 2015)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Download: IJ's Complaint (December 13, 2011) (PDF)

Download: U.S. Supreme Court Petition (November 18, 2014) (PDF)

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit: 


December 13, 2011

Court Filed:


U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana



none available

 Current Court: None


U.S. Supreme Court rejected cert
  Next Key Date:


Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release (Savannah/New Orleans): Tour Guides In Savannah Sue To End City’s Licensing Requirement (November 18, 2014)


none available

Release: New Orleans Tour Guides Appear Before Federal Appellate Court (April 29, 2014)

Release: New Orleans Tour Guides Take First Amendment Fight to Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (July 24, 2013)


Release: Court to Hear Argument in Tour Guide Challenge (September 6, 2012)

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: New Orleans tour guides' licensing fight turned away by U.S. Supreme Court Times-Picayune (February 23, 2015)
Article: Justices reject New Orleans tour guides' free speech appeal Associated Press (AP) - New Orleans Bureau (February 23, 2015)
Article: High Court Asked to Rule on Tour-Guide Licensing Associated Press (AP) - McLean Bureau (November 18, 2014)
Article: N.O. tour guide licensing constitutional, appeal courts says The New Orleans Advocate (June 3, 2014)
Article: Arguments in the tour guide free speech lawsuit against New Orleans unfolded in appeals court on Wednesday (April 30, 2014)
Audio: Oral Argument, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (April 30, 2014)
Article: Licensed to Speak? Liberty & Law (February 2012)
Article: N.O. tour guides sue city over licensing rules Business Week
(December 13, 2011)
Article: Local tour guides to file lawsuit against city of New Orleans CBS-4
(December 12, 2011)

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