The Ku Klux Klan is turning to a surprise choice for help in its fight to sponsor a highway cleanup: the ACLU. And the civil rights group is considering taking the case, representatives tell the Guardian. Georgia refused the KKK's request to sponsor a portion of highway where members would take responsibility for picking up trash. Transportation officials said the adopt-a-highway program is reserved for "civic-minded organizations in good standing." Promoting an organization with a "history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest would present a grave concern to the department," they added in a statement.
The ACLU is investigating the issue and may take the case. "The law is pretty clear you may not deny participation in a program like this—that is, run by the state—based on the mission and the message of the organization. It's a free speech issue," said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the ACLU's Georgia branch, adding: "I'm concerned the decision makers of the state thought that this was OK: It's viewpoint discrimination." The First Amendment, she said, is intended to protect unpopular views, and if such protections erode, "all of us will will suffer for it." The KKK member who filed an application to participate in the highway program said the group is no longer a quasi-terrorist organization, and that members are "working for a better tomorrow."