by: Diana Davis Updated:
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. - The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Georgia on behalf of the Ku Klux Klan.
The suit was filed late Thursday afternoon in Fulton County Superior Court.
At issue: the Georgia Department of Transportation's denial of the Klan's application to put its name on an Adopt-A-Highway sign.
The KKK wants to put its name on the Adopt-A-Highway sign at mile marker 1 on Highway 515 in Union County.
The state Department of Transportation turned down the application in June on the grounds that the Klan's history of violence might trigger social unrest.
Now, the ACLU is suing the state on behalf of the KKK, defending the Klan's right to sponsor a sign and its right to free speech.
"The point is the government may not choose what is and is not acceptable. It's called viewpoint discrimination," said Debbie Segraves of the ACLU.
The DOT told Channel 2's Diana Davis 173 community and civic organizations are involved in the Adopt-A-Highway program. Those with signs clean up litter on about 200 miles of roads.
When the story broke back in June, Davis interviewed the county commission chairman about the controversy.
Lamar Paris told her then that the KKK's name on the first mile marker is not the image the county wants.
"Certainly, it's not the way we like to have Blairsville or Union County portrayed," Paris said.
The ACLU said no matter how offensive the Klan's history and positions on race and religion may be, it has the same right to free speech and sign sponsorships as any other group.
"It's not relevant whether or not we agree or disagree with the viewpoint that's being expressed. What we agree with is the constitutional protection of free speech. And the ACLU has always stood for that, and the ACLU will always stand for that," Seagraves said.