The white supremacist group, the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, wants to adopt a stretch of highway as part of the Adopt-a-Highway program, but the state of Georgia fears the incoming backlash from hearing the case altogether.
The Washington Post reports that the state wants sovereign immunity in the case. This would protect the state from civil suit or criminal prosecution.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia found this to be “disheartening” because of the “implied violation” of free speech. In a recent statement, Maya Dillard Smith, executive director for the ACLU in the state says that:
“It will be expanding the right of the state to engage in viewpoint discrimination. That is, the state will be given a license to refuse participation of individuals and groups whose speech the government disagrees with. Today it’s the KKK. Tomorrow it’s journalists, lobbyists, religious evangelicals and even Black Lives Matter.”
Essentially, she is supporting the KKK’s rights to free speech; the same group that has historically terrorized Black communities since 1866.
In a 2012 case, a North Carolina chapter of the KKK wanted to clean up a highway in the same way, but the Department of Transportation denied them because they were the KKK and the highway in discussion was unsafe for volunteers. The state also feared public backlash and backed off entirely.
Monday, the Supreme Court took the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan’s case.
If the KKK chapter wins, their legal counsel, Alan Begner, said the members are going straight to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
“We’re going to knock on the door,” he said, “and say, ‘We’re ready for our signs and our vests and our trash bag?’ ”
Harley Hanson, one of the group’s members, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “We just want to clean up the doggone road. We’re not going to be out there in robes.”