Three months after the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) denied a request from the , the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 13, accuses the State of Georgia of using "frivolous and pretextual" grounds to deny the Adopt-a-Highway application submitted by the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (IKKK).
In , "Encountering signage and members of the KKK along a roadway would create a definite distraction to motorists."
The GDOT also advised the section of roadway listed in the application was ineligible due to the posted limit exceeding 55 mph.
"Further, promoting an organization with a history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest would present a grave concern to the Department," officials added. "Finally, 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."
According to the ACLU, the decision to deny the application based in part on the group's history, "violates the free speech and due process rights guaranteed by the Georgia Constitution."
“Many people may find the views expressed by groups like the IKKK abhorrent. But there is nothing American about taking away the right to express those views or undertake a project, such as notification of sponsorship of a highway cleanup, which is otherwise open to all,” said Chara Fisher Jackson, legal director of the ACLU Foundation of Georgia, in a released statement. “Freedom of speech is at the very core of American values.”
Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the ACLU Foundation of Georgia, said the government cannot "pick or choose who is protected by the Constitution."
“There will always be speech and groups conveying hateful messages that are distasteful to some. That is why the First Amendment protects free speech for all,” she added.
The ACLU is asking the GDOT be compelled to issue an Adopt-a-Highway permit to the KKK. Read the full complaint here.
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