The Georgia Department of Transportation late Tuesday denied a request from the
According to a GDOT press release, the department, after consultation with Gov. Nathan Deal, denied the request.
"Maintaining the safety of our roadways is this Department’s foremost mission," the GDOT press release stated. "Encountering signage and members of the KKK along a roadway would create a definite distraction to motorists."
The GDOT also advised the section of roadway listed in the application was ineligible due to the posted limit exceeding 55 mph.
"Further, promoting an organization with a history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest would present a grave concern to the Department," officials added. "Finally, issuing this permit would have the potential to negatively impact the quality of life, commerce and economic development of Union County and all of Georgia."
GDOT had a lot of encouragement to deny the application, including a petition drive on Change.org by Nioshii Wilde, an Atlanta-based visual artist and civil rights advocate.
“As a longtime Georgia resident, I do not want my taxpayer dollars spent on a highway that condones hate,” Wilde said in a press release promoting the drive. “The KKK is not a civic-minded organization; it is a domestic terror group."
But it is unlikely GDOT's denial of the application will go unchallenged and that could prove costly for the already financially strapped GDOT.
Chara Fisher Jackson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, told 11Alive that they had received a "request for assistance" in the case, and that they are "going through the process" of investigating. It was reported that although Jackson wouldn't give specifics or whether the ACLU would get involved, she did say it was something they would look at. 11Alive also reports that Alan Begner, a veteran First Amendment attorney, believes the state would lose a legal challenge by the KKK.
According to 11Alive, a legal battle over the same issue in 2005 in Missouri eventually came out on the side of the KKK. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court is reported to have ruled that maintaining membership in the program could not be denied because of the beliefs of the group.
What do you think? Will GDOT's ruling stand or will it have to reverse its decision in the face of a legal challenge?