Court to decide whether Klu Klux Klan can adopt a highway in Georgia

A Georgia court is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday about whether the Ku Klux Klan can adopt a highway in the state.

The case is an appeal filed by the state of Georgia after a lower court ruled last year that its Department of Transportation could not reject a request from the KKK to adopt a Georgia highway. 

The initial lawsuit was filed by American Civil Liberties Union Foundation on behalf of the International Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. 

{mosads}The groups argued in the original lawsuit that was filed in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Ga., in 2012 that the prohibition was a violation of the KKK’s right to free speech that is guaranteed under the First Amendment. 

“Defendants have refused to issue an Adopt-a-Highway permit to Plantiffs, based upon Defendant’s perception of the Planitffs’ speech, in violation of the Georgia constitution,” the lawsuit said. 

“Defendants have set criteria for qualification for the Adopt-a-Highway program that are unconstitutionally vague, and Defendants have established no process for appeal of denial of an application, all in violation of the Due Process rights embodied in the Georgia Constitution,” the lawsuit continued.  

The Georgia Transportation Department said when it rejected the KKK’s Adopt-a-Highway application in June 2012 that “issuing this permit would have the potential to negatively impact the quality of life, commerce and economic development of Union County and all of Georgia.”

“The Adopt A Highway Program is designed to allow civic-minded organizations in good standing to provide the valuable public service of removing litter from designated roadways. Participation in the program should not detract from its worthwhile purpose,” the Georgia Transportation Department said in a statement at the time.

“Maintaining the safety of our roadways is this Department’s foremost mission. Encountering signage and members of the KKK along a roadway would create a definite distraction to motorists,” the statement continued. “Further, promoting an organization with a history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest would present a grave concern to the department.”

The lower court sided with the ACLU and the KKK, setting up Thursday’s showdown at the Georgia Appeals Court. 

Tags Adopt-a-Highway American Civil Liberties Union Georgia Department of Transportation KKK

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