September 13, 2012

ATLANTA -- The ACLU Foundation of Georgia filed a lawsuit today in Fulton County Superior Court against the State of Georgia on behalf of the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (IKKK), which had sought to be a part of the Adopt-a-Highway Program. The IKKK sought to maintain a stretch of Highway 515 in Union County as part of the Keep Our Mountains Beautiful program.

“The fundamental right to free speech is not limited to only those we agree with or groups that are inoffensive. The government cannot pick or choose who is protected by the Constitution,” said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the ACLU Foundation of Georgia. “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.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation rejected the IKKK’s application to participate in the Adopt-a-Highway Program because of the group’s history and the potential impact to motorists driving on that stretch of highway. This decision 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. “Freedom of speech is at the very core of American values.”

Attorneys on the case also include Alan and Cory Begner of Begner & Begner, P.C.

To view the Complaint click here