Report: Georgia To Deny KKK Application To Adopt Highway

Yesterday, we told you about how the state of Georgia was trying to decide whether to accept an “adopt-a-highway” application from a local Ku Klux Klan group or risk facing a lengthy legal battle by denying it. Now It looks like the state’s Dept. of Transportation has opted for the latter.

Citing an anonymous state official, CNN reports that the Georgia DOT won’t be accepting the KKK’s application to adopt a one-mile stretch of road near the North Carolina border.

The Klan chapter, which filed its application in late May, has already said it would pursue legal action if the state denied its request to clean up the roadway in exchange for official recognition. The group previously stated its intention to ask the American Civil Liberties Union to get involved on its behalf.

The ACLU was involved in a similar legal battle between the Klan and Missouri. In that case, a judge ruled in favor of the Klan’s application, saying that the state could not deny an application simply because it disagrees with a group’s beliefs. The U.S. Supreme Court opted to not review that case.

Even though the Klan was successful in its legal efforts, it apparently was not as successful in actually cleaning up the stretch of I-55 it had adopted, allowing the state to cancel the group’s participation in the program.

“I don’t see why we can’t (adopt the stretch of highway),” a rep for the Klan chapter in Georgia tells CNN. “Would it be any different if it was the Black Panthers or something? Someone always has some kind of race card.”

Georgia official: KKK won’t be allowed to ‘adopt’ highway [CNN]

Thanks to Harper for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    “I don’t see why we can’t (adopt the stretch of highway),” a rep for the Klan chapter in Georgia tells CNN. “Would it be any different if it was the Black Panthers or something? Someone always has some kind of race card.”

    This. This is why we don’t want you to adopt a highway.

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      I read that last sentence, and I just want to tell him “Honey, it’s not a race card, it’s because you promote hate speech. There’s a difference.”

      Still and all, I think that they should legally be allowed to adopt the highway they’re requesting. As much as I find what they say repugnant, I staunchly stand behind their right to say it.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        Funny how we’ll happily deny the KKK the right to say what they want, but no one will do anything about the Boy Scouts, Mormons, Catholics, Westboro…

        • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

          Well, like I said, I stand behind their right to say what they want, just like Mitt Romney, Boy Scouts of America, NORML, the Black Panthers, and the Dalai Lama. While in America, all of them have equal rights to say what they believe, regardless of my personal opinion of the content of the message.

          • incident_man says:

            The Democratic Socialist in me agrees with you in your fundamental argument: Equal rights. I personally like Missouri’s solution. They didn’t exclude the KKK, they just renamed the stretch of highway after a minority civil-rights leader, thereby potentially offending the KKK into dereliction of their obligation. Pure genious, if you ask me.

            • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

              I agree. I love that solution. Agree to allow them to do the job, then make the job morally distateful to them, thus allowing the state to remove them from the position. It’s worked the world over for employers who want to get rid of problematic employees, after all.

              • Here to ruin your groove says:

                By your standard, if you don’t want a Muslim/Jewish/Indian/etc working for you? Change the name of the position to something that upsets them.

                I hope you never are able to set your ideology to work in a business setting.

          • Dieflatermous says:

            Actually, Freedom of Speech ends when it infringes upon someone else’s freedoms — such as Hate Speech. So really you’re just saying you’re okay with hatemongers who murder people.

            • rmorin says:

              Hate speech is not a crime in the United States, and is in fact protected by the constitution.

              Back to internet lawyer school for you.

        • stooj says:

          Why is that funny?

          • Here to ruin your groove says:

            “Freedom means nothing unless it includes complete freedoms for all…not just a chosen few.” GG Fucking Allin.

        • Costner says:

          Nobody is denying their right to say it… they just aren’t promoting or condoning it. To allow them to have the state approve their highway cleanup, the state is thereby endorsing the organization and thus I have zero problem with them rejecting their application just as they should for any hate-based group.

          • partofme says:

            I think you’re going down the line of 1A jurisprudence, not 1C. The gov’t is not allowed to remotely support anything related to religion because some people are worried that support=endorse=establish (of course, the lines in this area are really awkwardly drawn at the moment). There is no parallel jurisprudence for hate speech. Whether it actually involves them endorsing a message does not come into the 1C calculation… unless you’re claiming that preventing a single sign from having the name of the KKK on it is a compelling state interest (which would be hard to claim in 2012).

            • Costner says:

              You may be correct… I’m actually somewhat torn on this. I want them to be able to say whatever they want, but I fear the ramifications of what appears to be state sponsored hate speech.

              This is one of those cases where there really isn’t an answer that will please everyone… or even a large majority.

              • Doubting thomas says:

                It is far from state sponsored hate speech. It is in reality almost the opposite. To allow it would be the state rising above hate and discrimination by allowing an almost universally hated organization equal participation in a state event. You don’t fight hate and intolerance by sinking to its level.

              • RAEdwards says:

                It’s no more State Sponsored Hate Speech than allowing a church to adopt a highway is State Sponsored Religion.

          • jiubreyn says:

            THIS. The KKK are free to say whatever they want, but since they’re defined as a hate group don’t get the publicity other groups do.

            • StarKillerX says:

              But that is an important difference.

              The simply fact that the klan is a known hate group whose sole reason to exist is to promote hatred, intolerance and bigotry, plus it has a history of violence and terroristic activities. These very things makes it different then any group tossed into the ring by other commenters have tried to compared it to.

              • partofme says:

                I’ve said it before, and I think it bears more discussion (since I’ve never heard a decent attempt at a rebuttal) – It’s downright dangerous to make legal determinations based on what we may think is hate speech. I think SCOTUS agrees with me on this. It’s essentially impossible to define precisely what it is and not leave the test ripe to abuse (just look at maxamus2’s comment above).

                As far as the history of violence and terroristic activities, this is exactly backward. The test is whether they’re inciting an immediate threat of violence. Forward, not backward.

        • Jawaka says:

          This is an example of how free speech can be a double edged sword. If you’re going to fight against that Massachusetts town that wants to fine people for swearing then you also have to fight for the right for the KKK to have their free speech as well.

        • Martha Gail says:

          I read a nice little piece on Reddit about how BSA is not actually in charge of making decisions about who they accept in troupes and as leaders, but each individual charter does. I can’t find the exact comment, but I think has some good points.

      • maxamus2 says:

        But I find most all religions promote “hate speech”.

    • wade says:

      Because he’s talking to CNN?

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’m rather surprised. Case law shows the state will likely lose, to the detriment of its own tax-paying citizens.

    Frankly, I’d be petitioning for the removal of whoever made that decision.

    • huadpe says:

      Well, the precedent is from a different circuit, so it’s not binding. I think it depends on the nature of the adopt-a-highway program. The state’s best argument is that if the program entitles you to roadway signage, then the state may be permitted to regulate that political groups are not permitted to get such signage, if the regulation is content neutral. Most likely, Georgia will lose in court, though I imagine they’ll also be sticklers about following ALL the rules for adopt-a-highway for them and take the sign away the moment a rule is broken.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        The precedent is from the United States Supreme Court.

        The precedent is from the single highest principle the country observes.

        The government is not allowed to interfere with the free exercise of speech. If the KKK isn’t allowed to adopt-a-highway, no one else is allowed to.

        The core principles of our society don’t change because you disagree with them.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Since SCOTUS didn’t rule that this was a First Amendment issue your entire argument falls apart.

          The court that ruled it was is in a different jurisdiction, so it’s finding does not give any precedent in this case. It’s entirely possible a different judge in a different circuit will rule differently. At that point SCOTUS might be persuaded to hear the case and issue a definitive ruling.

        • wade says:

          LOL, legal FAIL. You should at least preface your incorrect legal assumptions with “IANAL.”

        • ARP says:

          Please give us the cite for the SCOTUS decision. Can’t find it? That’s because it was a Circuit court case, not a US Supreme court case.

          I’m sure you know all the jurisprudence around reasonable time, place, manner restrictions and well as content neutral restrictions to base your opinion on who is going to win?

          • Difdi says:

            Yes, and when the state appealed that circuit court case that they lost, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, which is that standard format SCOTUS uses when agreeing that a lower court got it so right, not even commentary is required.

            • wade says:

              I guess that means SCOTUS agrees with the 98-99% of cases that a petition for a writ of certiorari are filed and not granted? OR, could it mean that they don’t have time to hear 8000+ cases a term?

              Legal FAIL. Back to internet law school with you!

      • sirwired says:

        This is not some vague area of constitutional jurisprudence. Yes, the precedent is from a different circuit, and not binding on GA’s circuit, but this is not a tough call. It does not even remotely resemble a gray area. If a judge were to rule otherwise, he’d simply be overturned on appeal.

        The KKK are a perfectly legal (and perfectly horrible) social group, and if the local Boy Scout troop can adopt a highway and have it proclaimed on a sign, so can the KKK.

        Who knows, these otherwise stupid, ignorant, rednecks might even have a genuine desire to pick up litter by the roadside…

        There’s better ways to fight this… tossing out a decision you know is illegal isn’t one of them.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      Well the state likely knows it’s going to lose but they want to show everyone that they’re NOT RAYCESS so they drag it out lose and then wait until the hate group loses interest in keeping the part of they highway clean at which point they can revoke the sponsorship.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        My thought as well, but as a tax payer I really wouldn’t care. Spending what could likely be hundreds of thousands in legal fees, if not more if it hits the federal appeals court…just for “street cred”…is a big waste.

        • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

          Yeah I’m with you, they could issue a press release saying allowing a domestic terrorist org to sponsor a stretch of highway doesn’t mean we agree, blah blah blah free speech. Then just wait for any screwup and boom no more sponsorship.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Yes, but at least this way the state can blame those damned liberal activist judges.

    • who? says:

      Yes, they’re likely to lose, but there’s something to be gained by at least giving the appearance of putting up a fight.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        What? What is gained? Legal bills?

        • who? says:

          Would you want to be seen as the guy who gives in to the racist f*cks in sheets, or would you rather be forced to do it by a judge?

          The GA DOT has lawyers on salary. It isn’t like it’s going to break the bank to have them file a couple of briefs. They file, they get shot down, the world goes on. But the judge made the decision, not the DOT.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            Or, citizens see that the DOJ doesn’t even understand basic Constitutional law, and gets ousted.

          • YouDidWhatNow? says:

            I’d rather be the guy who upheld the law of the land, since that’s what you’re supposed to do.

          • bluline says:

            Denying the KKK when case law clearly is on their side equates to mismanagement of state funds to pay for the court case (the state will have to pay the KKK’s legal bills as well). If I was a taxpayer in Georgia, I’d be more pissed about that than I would be about letting the KKK adopt a highway.

          • Doubting thomas says:

            Personally I would like to be the guy who upholds the laws and provision of my state and country. Not the guy who fights a losing and illegal fight and gives the KKK 100 times the publicity than they would have received from just a small highway sign maybe 200 people would ever see or read.

  3. Blackadar says:

    Let ’em adopt it. It’ll be the littered piece of roadway in all of GA.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      That’s what I said in the earlier post. Let’s all go dump trash on “their” highway. ;)

    • Jane_Gage says:

      /flings dental dam out window Cracka cracka trash compacta! lol /90 mph to FL boarder

    • bluline says:

      Yes, because littering that stretch of highway because you disapprove of the organization cleaning it up is the mature thing to do. Grow up.

      • Blackadar says:

        It’s a simple truth, like it or not. But feel free to live with your head buried up your ass if you prefer.

      • Kuri says:

        Actually, according to the article, they didn’t maintain the stretch they adopted before, so it seems they’d let it go to pot anyway.

    • Difdi says:

      Hey, I’d consider the fine for littering worth it, if it lets me watch a bunch of guys in white sheets cleaning it up.

    • MeowMaximus says:

      Better yet, as soon as they adopt it, rename it “Martin Luther King” highway. Hilarity ensues.

  4. sirwired says:

    This is not going to end well for the State of GA. They will burn who knows how many thousands in legal bills, and they will lose. Handily. This isn’t even a gray area of the law. Sometimes the equitable application of the law means you end up with results you don’t want.

    There are creative ways to discourage them, like renaming the stretch of road after a Civil Rights figure, (and, even better, announcing it on an adjacent sign.)

    • Gman says:

      That would be awesome. They should do that and not should the sign be adjacent, but make sure the name is prominent on the highway adoption sign too.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Exactly. Find some famous Georgian that fought against the KKK and name that stretch of highway after him/her.

  5. Gman says:

    I am disgusted by hate groups. But just because I don’t like them does not prevent them from having the same rights I do.

    As long as what they do with the road or promote on the road breaks no laws, they should be allowed to adopt.

    Even a scummy, hate fulled, horrible and disgusting organization such as the KKK.

  6. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Given that they didn’t really clean the highway they adopted in Missouri and were kicked out of the program, I’m thinking they don’t really want to clean a highway, just get their name on a sign.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      That’s fine. When they fail to meet their commitments, the sign will be removed. Until then, they’re “a private organization,” as all the people who have defended homophobic church groups and the BSA have said for decades.

  7. humphrmi says:

    I remember driving through a remote area of wilderness near San Antonio, TX many years ago and seeing an Adopt-A-Highway sign that the local Klan adopted that stretch. At first my response was “Only in the south”, but I don’t think it really hurts anyone, as long as they do what they sign up to do (clean the highway).

    • pythonspam says:

      What if they are out there picking up trash in their hooded robes?
      What if someone of the non-white persuasion needs to walk down that road at that time?

      • rmorin says:

        Sorry, that’s still free speech, including their clothing. Just because you don’t like it does not mean that they don’t have the right to do so.

        Also you are a little demeaning to “non-whites” (your word not mine) to assume that they would not be able to handle the situation. I’m pretty sure minorities face intolerance all the time and can handle themselves in those situations.

      • Doubting thomas says:

        That’s a pure straw man argument. Even without the sign or the official program there is nothing to stop the Klan form dressing up in their sheets and walking up and down that stretch of highway anyhow. It also makes no logical sense for them do to so while cleaning the highway. No one is going to do outside work in Georgia in the summer while swathed in a head to foot robe, plus there are usually safety regulations that require day-glo orange vests for visibility.

        • humphrmi says:

          Although now I’m giggling thinking about a bunch of guys in white sheets with safety vests on, poking at garbage with those pointy sticks. Sounds like a scene from a Mel Brooks movie.

    • uber_mensch says:

      The Klan in Hudson, Florida successfully received signage for Adopt A Road back in 1999.
      What’s the big deal? It’s not like they are acting like the hip-hop crowd and killing thousands of people a year.

      They are not the boogie man.

  8. shufflemoomin says:

    “Someone always has some kind of race card” WTF!? Someone please educate the Klan on ‘irony’ and a possible follow up class on ‘hypocrisy’.

    • nishioka says:

      What you said. There’s a difference between being proud of your heritage and being proud of your heritage while also being affiliated with the group responsible for burning crosses in peoples’ front yards and bombing homes in Alabama.

  9. evilpete says:

    Should have let then how is it, then assign then some rural dirt back road

  10. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Although I would be horrified to ever actually meet someone stupid enough to be a member of the KKK, the fact of the matter is that their belief system isn’t illegal…they’re a legal group, and there’s no legal basis to deny them the ability to sponsor a chunk of highway – not on that basis, anyway. As noted, if they don’t keep up their end of the bargain and just let trash pile up then sure, you can kick them out of the program because of that.

    Stuff like this has to be openly available to all…whether the group of wackos applying happens to be a bunch of neo-nazis, or a bunch of Catholics. Clearly it’s legal for the KKK to exist…so, there’s no basis for denying them the ability to sponsor a highway.

    Embarrassing court loss coming soon.

  11. El_Fez says:

    God damnit, Georgia. You have put me in a position I thought I would never be in: agreeing with the Klan!

    Do I think that their ideas are reprehensible? Of course. Do I think they should have the same freedoms that the rest of us have? Without a doubt. We have to make sure that everyone – even the assholes of society – is free.

  12. 2 Replies says:

    Not a member, and not a fan.
    Pride is fine, but you don’t need an organization to be proud. This applies to ALL races, religions, and whatnot.
    And something you WERE BORN WITH, that you didn’t need to WORK FOR to get is NOT SOMETHING that you should be proud of. It doesn’t make YOU better or worse than anyone else.

    That said,
    Hard money is on them winning their case, with the support of the ACLU (and I hope they do).
    The state can’t legally discriminate, and this is discrimination based upon a stereotype of the actions former members.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      What if they deny them on the basis that they didn’t take care of the highway in Missouri when they adopted one there?

      Or is there some kind of statute that says stuff in other states can’t set a legal precedent?

      • Doubting thomas says:

        different chapters. then you would have to ban all the boy scouts because cub scout pack xxx didn’t clean up their road in Kentucky, or all methodists because the methodists in Wyoming forgot to pick up litter.

  13. kingdom2000 says:

    God I wish Georgia had smarter people running it. Instead its a bunch of wusses who claim to care about the state and federal Constitution but really just a bunch of wusses doing the CYA dance.

    This is a straight up 1st amendment case. Period. The whole point of the 1st is to allow those you disagree with to express themselves. Without it things like unions, woman voting, and civil rights would have not existed because in their time they were just as wildly unpopular as the KKK currently is. This request falls under the category of “tough sh$#@, thems the breaks.”

    You know what would have happened if they approved this? A few articles saying it was approved, a year from now some sign on the highway and maybe the occasional story about it being vandalized. If even that. So maybe a single more news cycle about the KKK. Now we will have stories about the KKK, more statements from the KKK, and really just lots of attention of the KKK being the victim. Since this will go to court, who knows how many news cycle of free attention the KKK will get.

    In what world is it the intelligent choice to create a situation where the KKK gets free press for being the victim of the government?

  14. RayanneGraff says:

    If they deny the KKK because they promote hate speech, they’re gonna have to start denying religious organizations too.

    I’m no fan of the klan, but if they wanna do a good deed by cleaning up road trash, LET THEM. I don’t agree with their beliefs but they have just as much of a right to adopt a highway as anyone else. Don’t waste taxpayer money fighting an unwinnable battle.

  15. rookie says:

    Perhaps if the state were to point out to the Klansmen that the highway is black…

  16. Robert Nagel says:

    If my memory serves me, didn’t the state rename that section of the highway in honor of Rosa Parks? This meant the KKK would be cleaning up her highway. something they couldn’t stomach.

  17. longfeltwant says:

    I dunno. I think Georgia should allow it. If Georgia wants to Do The Right Thing, they can name the highway after MLK or something like that. Maybe they can have some other group clean up the next stretch of highway.

  18. Mark702 says:

    Funny, here in Oregon, a local chapter of NORML, the marijuana law reform group, has adopted a stretch of highway, didn’t get any resistance. But I do see the difference, one being a (Federally) illegal substance, the other is hate speech.

  19. ARP says:

    Isn’t the ACLU an evil socialist group. How can they be defending the Klan (and Rush Limbaugh for that matter).

    • Brian says:

      You’re just replacing one extremist view with another, but the irony is still valid. An organization dedicated to preserving civil rights helping an organization that’s historically been against them? What?

  20. PhillipSC says:

    can’t they just clean in up on their own? do you really have to have the states permission to be a good citizen and clean up trash?

  21. qwerty017 says:

    Georgia is going to fight and it is going to lose and in the process waste how many millions of dollars. Once they lose i get the following is going to happen just as I stated on the last post about this.
    I can almost see what is going to happen. They are going to name that section of the road after Rosa Parks and everybody is going to laugh and say “That sure taught them”. Would I laugh as well? No. Why? Because I know that 99% of the people that think this way are just hypocrites. They wouldn’t laugh if someone came around and started naming all of the roads sponsored by Boy Scout troops after Gays and Atheists. They wouldn’t find it funny that Veterans groups had to clean up trash on roads renamed for famous anti-war activists. And would these same people get a chuckle when Christian groups suddenly had their roads renamed in remembrance of Muslim and Hindu martyrs or Gods? I doubt it. So if you wouldn’t find it funny for all of these other groups, especially the Boy Scout example since they also discriminate just like the KKK then why would you support the same thing happening to these people?

  22. JJFIII says:

    There are mixed things at work here:

    1. This is a group that is a terrorist group. That is not open to debate
    2. Free speech is not absolute. Fire in a crowded theater is not protected, not is child pornography
    3. Would the state be required to accept Al Queda as a sponsor of a road?
    4. Would the state be required to accept NAMBLA as a sponsor?
    5. Does the safety of the roads take priority over free speech? There could be a compelling argument about safety here. Just to make an analogy, there is the second amendment right to bear arms, and yet the government will not allow a person to enter a federal court room with a gun.

    As an overall POLICY, I think the adopt a road program is ridiculous. NO GROUP should be allowed to adopt any stretch of road. I do not want boy scouts or KKK or any group taking care of sections of road, that is what tax dollars are for.

    • Doubting thomas says:

      1. Stating that something is beyond debate does not make it magically so. 40 or so years ago there were many terrorist acts committed by these inbred skid marks, but for the past 30 or so years they have just been load and obnoxious, broken remnants of what they once were.
      2. Your fire in a crowded theater angle is off base because shouting fire in a theater can get people hurt or killed. A small blue sign and some rednecks picking up trash doesn’t hold any threat to anyone’s physical well being
      3 and 4. Yes and yes
      5. What compelling argument about safety? There is always a danger of some drunk or texting idiot running over someone who is doing trash cleanup but that is not Klan specific, aside from that you have no basis to believe that the Klan would be plotting violence while picking up beer cans. if your argument is that them being there might provoke violence from others then you cant let a gay, Jewish, Muslim, or several other groups participate either.

      As far as it being ridiculous I have to disagree as well. As long as someone is willing to do the work then I have no problem with fewer tax dollars being spent on litter.

  23. Harry Greek says:

    Hey, isn’t Georgia the state that passed a law against illegal migrant workers, right before a season of crops was due for picking and harvesting? And, as a result there wasn’t anyone around to pick the harvest, thus resulting in millions of dollars worth of spoiled crops?

    Georgia, awright!! ::spit & scratch::

  24. dpeters11 says:

    I see a lot of comments that Georgia will lose the case. No, they won’t. If the KKK requested this particular stretch of highway, and the speed limit exceeds what the program allows for, then it’s denied. The program allows for a maximum of 55MPH. This stretch is 65MPH. Any group, even a VFW or Kiwanis lodge would be denied this section.

  25. RAEdwards says:

    Something the article (and CNN’s one) leaves out is the “official reason” was that the speed limit along that stretch is greater than 55 MPH and therefore doesn’t qualify for Adopt-A-Highway.