ACLU to Represent KKK in Litter Program Dispute
Civil rights group says it is a first amendment issue even though it disagrees with KKK’s message
Renee Starzyk WGCL
June 28, 2012Atlanta, GA (WGCL) -- The American Civil Liberties Union has announced it will offer legal help to the Ku Klux Klan, which is trying to join Georgia's highway cleanup program.
ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Debbie Seagraves told CBS Atlanta News that she understands her group's decision to assist the Klan is controversial.
"Do I find it somewhat troublesome to hear the KKK message?" said Seagraves. "Yes I do. But the government cannot make a judgment based on someone's viewpoint that they don't agree with."
The KKK applied to the "Adopt-A-Highway" program, hoping to clean up along part of Route 515 in Union County. Those taking part in the program get a sign along the roadway with their group's name on it.
State officials denied the Klan's application.
The Georgia Department of Transportation said a KKK sign along the highway would distract drivers. It also said promoting an organization with a history of inciting social unrest was a "grave concern."
"To protect the First Amendment means that we protect it for all people, not just those we like," said Seagraves.
Some Georgia residents said they do not agree with the KKK's message but feel a lawsuit is a waste of taxpayers' money.
"They have to weigh the benefits versus how much it's going to cost them," said Sara Trickie. "And do they fight everybody that generally we find repulsive or just the select few?"
Seagraves said the ACLU is beginning to work on its strategy for representing the group but believes the KKK has a strong case.
"The position of so many courts through the years is that the government does not get to decide in the marketplace of ideas whose ideas are worth more," said Seagraves.
The governor supported GDOT's denial of the Klan's application, but his office refused to comment on the ACLU's involvement.
The attorney general's staff also refused to comment until the state is officially served with a lawsuit.