ACLU Agrees To Defend KKK’s Bid To Adopt Stretch Of Georgia Highway

The American Civil Liberties Union has finally made a decision whether or not to help the Ku Klux Klan adopt a stretch of Georgia highway, and has landed on the side of defending the controversial group. And now the plot has thickened, yet again: Officials in Union County, where the highway runs, say the KKK isn’t a part of that county and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to adopt the road.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the ACLU agreed on Tuesday to represent the KKK in its case. The Georgia Department of Transportation initially rejected a May 21 adopt-a-highway application filed by a key member of the Keystone Knights chapter. In that application, the KKK member listed the group’s address as a post office box in the county.

The application also stated that there would be at least six volunteers to help with road cleanup, although no other names were listed. The applicant then admitted yesterday that he doesn’t live in Union County but that the KKK group has a physical headquarters in the county but would not specify where.

“That’s one of the secrets we do have,” he said, adding that his home county is irrelevant.  “It doesn’t matter where we live, it’s irrelevant to the case.”

But Union County officials beg to differ.

“We don’t know why they picked Union County,” said the Union County Commissioner. “They could have easily chosen the last mile of Fannin County as opposed to the first mile in Union County.” He added that he wasn’t aware of any KKK members being from the county, now or in the past, and that they don’t want the group’s help.

“We have a great county and a good infrastructure,” he said. “We don’t need a controversy from a group who is claiming to want to pick up our trash. We are fully capable of picking up our own trash.”

The executive director for the ACLU of Georgia says she’s unsure if it matters where the applicant lives.

“It has not been a matter of discussion as far as I am concerned,” she said, confirming that the ACLU would be helping the KKK in what it considers a First Amendment case. “Yes, we are representing them, but we are still working on the strategy,” she said.

ACLU to represent KKK group [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Applekid says:

    Ku Klux Klan? Naw naw, we’re, ahhh… Kangaroo Kids Klub

  2. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    The KKK has said that this isn’t about publicity, and that they just want to keep the highway clean.

    I’ll let the courts decide if they should be allowed to formally adopt the highway – but if all they care about is keeping the highway clean, couldn’t they just go ahead and clean up with trash, with or without formal adoption?

    • MarkFL says:

      Possibly not. I don’t think state or local governments want to encourage random people to be doing roadside work due to safety issues. Generally pedestrians are prohibited from highways, although I’m not clear on what type of highway this is.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      From everything I’ve read, pretty much every time KKK groups have adopted a stretch of road, they don’t do a thing to keep it clean. Maybe this group is different, but it doesn’t help their argument.

      • penuspenuspenus says:

        Just curious, how many instances of KKK groups adopting a stretch of road and not doing a thing to keep it clean have you read about?

        The one in Missouri and….

    • kenj0418 says:

      The courts have decided with the KKK in similar cases before. A stretch of highway I used to live near in Missouri was adopted by them. The state took the case to the supreme court and they sided with the KKK. Missouri then renamed the stretch of highway after Rosa Parks. The KKK were dropped from the program after a while for not picking up trash.

      I think their sponsorship signs stayed up for an average of a day or two before someone took them down in the middle of the night.

      (Note to Georgia – I have a collection of vintage ‘This highway sponsored by the KKK’ signs in my shed if you’d like to buy some. Most were only used for a day or two.)

      • do-it-myself says:

        Well that seems like a simple solution. Tell the KKK “YES!” then rename the road after an African American or any other minority and suddenly they don’t want it any more. Why waste tax dollars on this issue deliberating the legality when the county can still get what they want with such an easy fix?

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Why waste tax dollars at all? Let them clean it up. If they don’t clean it up, take it away. If they do clean it up, the program is working.


      • RvLeshrac says:

        Yes, violating private property rights. You’ve really shown the KKK. You’re not helping to support their claim that the people who dislike them are just uncontrollable savages at *ALL*.

        If you’re starting shit with them, you’re proving them right. That’s all there is to it. Afford them every courtesy under the law, and they no longer have any ammunition with which to fight.

  3. ARP3 says:

    Time for Union County to rename that stretch W. E. B. Du Bois Road. Then they can fine them if they deface the sign or fail to pick up the trash.

  4. Coffee says:

    It’s nice to hear that the ACLU stands by a principle and has the conviction to represent groups – even groups it doesn’t care for – in an effort to be egalitarian and impartial. I just with the Supreme Court would take notes and see how this whole “impartial and fair” thing works.

    • RedOryx says:

      I agree. I think the ACLU has a reputation as being a bunch of bleeding heart liberals who will support one side but not the other. This, however, shows that they will put personal opinions about a group if they feel their rights have been violated.

    • partofme says:

      I’m getting pretty saddened by all the beating up on SCOTUS. They’re faced with really tough questions, and they’re stuck struggling with very fundamental principles. Generally, in the process of reading opinions, I’ll go back and forth on the matter myself… because nearly all of their arguments have compelling strengths and worrisome flaws.

      Of course, if you’re worried about, “calling balls and strikes,” to quote the Chief Justice in his confirmation hearing, it might be useful to know that the Roberts court has overturned precedents and laws each at about half the rate of the Rehnquist court. They’ve come down on some weird sides (with weird splits) on quite a few contentious issues already in the past seven terms.

      Really, this sentiment boils down to an overblown hatred of Citizens United. And that is the only thing (of course, we’ll see what they do tomorrow… if they strike down the individual mandate based on the penumbras of the Gettysburg address, then you probably have a legitimate concern).

      • partofme says:

        …I swear I wrote this shortly before I read the Brooks/Collins conversation in the NYT today.

      • Coffee says:

        You’re right…a lot is riding on the health care decision, and yes, my response is primarily one to the Citizens United ruling. I know it’s one of a number of decisions, but they chose to drop the ball on the single biggest issue they’ve had to rule on, and in a major, major way. Their ruling – based on the clearly fallacious assumption that money cannot corrupt the legal process – was laughably naive and smacked of partisanship at the time. And I cannot divorce myself from it.

        • partofme says:

          I think less is riding on what they decide and more is riding on how they decide it. Either path requires a messy argument with clear flaws. The question really is which path can patch up the most flaws.

          As far as CU goes, there’s a huge gap in your statement, “…clearly fallacious assumption that money cannot corrupt…” The gap is immediately before or after money. There needs to be a massive qualifier attached to it. CU said nothing about actually giving money to politicians or campaigns. You certainly can’t just give a guy a bag of money and avoid the appearance of corruptions.

          The money in question is the money spent on supporting political speech. The majority opinion focused on first amendment principles concerning speech and assembly. What is to distinguish a group making a video-on-demand with a political message available from a group from making a newspaper with a political message available? They’re both surely spending money on the process! So, the money itself isn’t really the issue. The issue is corruption… and spending money may be one way to acquire corruption.

          In fact, many people may think that some of the more “obviously allowed” categories, such as print and news media, may be developed to the point of causing corruption. What is consistently important is the corruption, not the money or the speech. All CU says is, “You probably should have decent evidence of corruption… and then go after that… rather than pre-emptively stifle a whole class of political speech.” Jurisprudence has been moving this way for a while. I’ve quoted her before, and I’ll do it again… from a Yale law prof at the 4th Circuit’s yearly review after the term with CU:

          Before CU, a corporation could run an ad saying, “Senator X kicks puppies. You should call Senator X and tell him to stop kicking puppies.” After CU, a corporation could run an ad saying, “Senator X kicks puppies and you shouldn’t vote for him.”

          By all means, I’m on board for finding ways to reduce corruption. However, it’s not really my cup of tea to say, “Hey you groups that don’t run newspapers or tv stations (oh, or aren’t singularly rich enough on your own)! Yea you! Guess what? You can’t express any political opinions! Why? Because f#@& you, that’s why!” It’s the same reason I think hate speech laws are pretty much unworkable. It’s essentially impossible to design demarcations that work (and don’t hurt legitimate things).. and all of the bad outcomes that we’re worried about are things that are unquestionably illegal anyway!

          …wow, that ended up wayyy longer than I had planned.

        • frodolives35 says:

          Well said. I strongly agree.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Yup. The ACLU pretty much has to take this case on. If you’re not disgusted by the KKK, you’re probably not a person I care to know…but the fact of the matter is that the KKK is a perfectly legal organization that legally has the same rights and privileges as any other organization. As such, the state/county has no legal basis for denying them their petition to sponsor a chunk of highway like any other group.

      Next mile sponsored by NAMBLA.

    • limbodog says:

      I agree. As much as I loathe the KKK, the ACLU is doing the right thing by taking this case.

  5. George4478 says:

    I am so happy to see my tax dollars spent on gonna-lose-for-sure lawsuits.

    • DemosCat says:

      Will tax dollars be wasted? Yes.

      Is it a gonna-lose-for-sure lawsuit? Not necessarily. I believe the ACLU won for the KKK in Mississippi. I expect the same thing will happen in Georgia.

      I suspect the Georgia officials only care about not being seen as supporting the KKK, and don’t really care which way a court case goes. It’s a win-win for them.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        …I suspect that George is asserting the opinion that the state is gonna lose…not the ACLU.

        • DemosCat says:

          If Georgia loses the case, it can deflect blame to the court. “Well, we tried.” Win!

          If Georgia wins the case, there are no adopt-a-mile KKK signs. Win!

  6. Blueskylaw says:

    It’s funny how the KKK claims to be a “benevolent” organization yet the members refuse to identify themselves or disclose where their headquarters are. How humble of them.

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      I don’t support the KKK or anything they stand for. However, I can understand why they’d want to protect their headquarters from the threat of vandalism and members from the threat of violence. Just because they see themselves as benevolent doesn’t mean they are blind to how other people see them.

    • DemosCat says:

      Since they’ve stated they won’t be wearing “hoodies” while picking up litter, I say take a page from the anti-abortion folks, and be at the roadside to take pictures.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        That does seem to be an iffy position for them to take…guess it depends on the chapter. There’s plenty of photos on the internet of in-the-open Klan members…but I would suspect most of them would rather not make themselves targets for back-alley vigilantism by making their identities known.

        Then again, maybe they’ll all be wearing Guy Fawkes masks…they just said no hoods, didn’t say anything about masks.

    • The Beer Baron says:

      It seems to me that a secret society that wants to publicize its existence by adopting a highway is failing the first rule of secret societies, namely, don’t talk about your secret society. One doesn’t see the Ancient and Honorable Society of No Homers bandying their existence about in such a crass manner! Then again, these self-styled “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” have never been the brightest sheets on the line.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        …they wanted to bleach their sheets, but if you look in a bottle of bleach you’ll see that it’s not “pure” white…it’s kinda yellow.

    • red91 says:

      The local branch of my KKK was holding an event (a march) with a few of their officials and some people they didn’t recognize showed up for the march. Those people then proceeded to assault the club members and required police intervention to prevent very serious injury. The KKK officers still ended up going to the hospital.

      I believe that, if these acts of violence towards the KKK are widespread (and it seems they may be, from the acts of vandalism I’ve read about in other comments), it may be merely prudence rather than humility that this other branch has decided not to identify its member list, nor disclose the location of its headquarters.

  7. MarkFL says:

    Union County commissioner says, “”We don’t know why they picked Union County. They could have easily chosen the last mile of Fannin County as opposed to the first mile in Union County.”

    I’m picturing the group going to Fannin County a day earlier and being told, “Hmmm…I don’t believe we have any available miles. But why don’t y’all go over to Union County, I hear they need someone to adopt the first mile over there.”

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Well, it’s the KKK. I’m not surprised they don’t know how maps, or the general concept of geography, work.

  8. Stickdude says:

    If they do in fact pick up the trash as they’ve promised, why does it matter where they live?

    If they wanted to fly in from Alaska once a week to clean trash, so what?

    • Blueskylaw says:

      If the KKK can’t be trusted to fill out paperwork properly (like everyone else has to),
      then how can they be trusted to actually clean up the road?

      • Stickdude says:

        They probably can’t – but then the county would have a defensible reason for removing them from the program.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “We have a great county and a good infrastructure,” he said. “We don’t need a controversy from a group who is claiming to want to pick up our trash. We are fully capable of picking up our own trash.”

    If you were, you wouldn’t be having people sign up to volunteer to clean it. Or if you did, you wouldn’t have an opening.

    • Kaleey says:

      Excellent point – thank you!

      Translation: “We need an excuse to deny this, so here’s what we have until we come up with somehting better!”

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      I’ve been trying to come up with a joke about needing trash to pick up the trash, but I keep getting stuck in temporal-causality loops.

      • DemosCat says:

        I keep thinking of a parody Barbie doll I saw called, “Trailer Trash Barbie.” The box had quotes on it like, “Daddy says I’m the best kisser in the county!”

  10. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    He added that he wasn’t aware of any KKK members being from the county, now or in the past

    Yeah, I’m sure there are not now nor has there ever been a single KKK member living in Union County, Georgia.

  11. MutantMonkey says:

    That’s got to be one hell of a bitter pill.

  12. El_Fez says:

    Good on them.

    Like any rational human being, I find the Klan and their beliefs repugnant and disgusting. However they have as much right to say their repugnant, disgusting dumb ass shit as much as the next guy. So give them the road, I say.

    Besides, I’d much rather have these fuckjobs out in the daylight where we can keep an eye on them instead of lurking in the shadows, slowly festering.

  13. MarkFL says:

    If the Klan doesn’t want to identify its members, how can they be expected to reliably show up to pick up the litter along a public highway when there is a sign saying who is doing the cleanup? This seems like a defense tactic for the county.

    However, since the Klan also says they aren’t looking for publicity, here is my suggestion: Have them make up an innocuous name — for example, the Union County Social Club — and have that name put on the sign. They get to do what they claim they want to do, the county gets a clean roadside, everyone saves the cost of a lawsuit, and the potential for violence on the highway is reduced. Everybody wins!

  14. Actionable Mango says:

    So on the one hand, the state bans highway litter cleanup because the KKK is not a “civic-minded organization in good standing.”

    Then on the other hand, the state sentences convicted criminals (people who are literally not in good standing) to community service where they… hold for it… clean up litter along the highway.

    • DemosCat says:

      Doublethink – The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary.

      –George Orwell

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Your analogy makes no sense. You’re comparing organizations to individuals (the convicted criminals.)

      The state doesn’t trust convicted criminals and doesn’t pretend to. They trust the department of corrections/LEOs to make sure the convicted criminals show up and clean the highway.

      Can the state of Georgia trust the KKK, whose membership is secret and doesn’t even have a known physical presence, to compel its members to show up when they’re scheduled to? Probably not.

  15. msbask v2 says:

    I can’t open CNN at work, so I can’t view the previous article about why they were rejected.

    Also, is residency in the county a prerequisite to adopting the roadway? There should be a simple answer to that.

  16. Versonymous says:

    Aaaaaaand Georgia is stupid for fighting it.

    If the KKK wants to adopt a section of highway, let them, just be sure to hold them to whatever responsibilities go along with that. Just be sure to name the section they are adopting the “Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Highway”. Make the rename effective the exact day the adoption goes through!

    Then you can just go ahead and have all those signs printed up “This section of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Highway proudly maintained by the KKK.” Make sure there is a picture of MLK on there. If they fail to uphold any obligations that go with the adoption, hold them accountable.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Might backfire…”see, it takes the KKK to clean up the trash on the MLK! So much trash on and around the MLK…but the Klan is here to fix it!”

      • Versonymous says:

        Check out the history of the KKK and how much damage was done to the group by the Superman Radio Shows wayyyyy back when. It would not be the MLK until after they acquired it. Not like they went out and found the MLK memorial stretch of highway and selected it.

        Who is going to “spin it” in the way you suggest? This is a group whose members will not even admit their membership openly… (See superman radio shows)

        I mean, find me a right-wing anti-gay activist willing to have a big sparkly rainbow affiliated with any aspect of their organization.

  17. longfeltwant says:

    “We don’t need a controversy from a group who is claiming to want to pick up our trash. We are fully capable of picking up our own trash.”

    Oh really? Well then the easy solution to this “problem” is to terminate your Adopt A Highway program. That way, you would not be discriminating based on political views. Done and done.

    The correct solution is to kindly thank the KKK for their commitment, then strictly enforce their cleanup program, while at the same time dedicating the stretch of highway to some kind of civil-rights activist. They might also consider having a civil fine against organizations which apply for the program then fail to meet their obligations. Oh, you suddenly don’t want to clean up miles 1, 2, and 3 of newly dedicated Martin Luther King highway? That’ll be a $10,000 fine to cover our lost admin costs.

  18. 2 Replies says:

    The plot isn’t really any thicker.
    He’s just using a different reason to try to justify his prejudice of the group.

    “We don’t need a controversy from a group who is claiming to want to pick up our trash. We are fully capable of picking up our own trash.”

    That’s his reasoning. Whether you agree with his reasoning or not, it’s prejudicial and wrong to exclude on that basis.

    His claim that (either the applicant, or the group … whom he’s talking about was unclear above) is not a member of the county is just his NEW excuse to try to justify his actions.