According to the Associated Press, the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit for the KKK last month. According to the KKK and the ACLU, Georgia’s denial was a free speech violation.
Georgia, in a response that was filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court, states that state agencies cannot be tried by citizens due to sovereign immunity, where the state cannot legally commit a wrong and thus cannot be sued.
Even if state agencies did not have sovereign immunity, the KKK did not try to resolve the matter by other means and the KKK missed the deadline to file the suit, Georgia’s response claims.
The KKK’s lawsuit is in response to being denied an Adopt-A-Highway permit by the state of Georgia. According to an earlier AP report, “The International Keystone Knights of the KKK in Union County applied in May to the state's 'Adopt-A-Highway' program, hoping to clean up along part of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains.“
The Georgia Transportation Department denied the request in June. Officials believed that the stretch of highway cannot be adopted because it has a 55 mph speed limit and that motorists seeing KKK members picking up trash could be safety hazard.
Surprisingly, history is on the KKK’s side. Previous cases involving controversial groups being denied an Adopt-A-Highway license in other states have been won by the controversial groups. Most importantly, the KKK had the United Supreme Court rule in their favor against Missouri after the state initially denied their request for an Adopt-A-Highway permit in 2001. In that case, Yarnell v. Cuffley, the ACLU had also represented the KKK.
Georgia’s case against the KKK may be sounder than Missouri’s. Missouri had denied the KKK because of the organization’s history whereas Georgia’s case states the stretch of highway the KKK has chosen is ineligible for the Adopt-A-Highway program.