ACLU Panel Agrees to Represent Klan in Anti-Litter Campaign Dispute
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ American Civil Liberties Union lawyers agreed Tuesday to represent a Ku Klux Klan group seeking to participate in a state Adopt-a-Highway anti-litter program, an ACLU spokesman said.
The ACLU’s legal panel voted 5-1 at a meeting Tuesday in Little Rock to take the case, said Jay Jacobson, executive director of the ACLU’s Arkansas affiliate.
Harrison members of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were rejected last month by the state Highway and Transportation Department when they sought to adopt one mile of U.S. 65 at the Arkansas-Missouri state line. Participants in the program are announced on signs posted along the highways they have adopted.
″I would say that it raises issues surrounding the First Amendment right of free speech,″ Jacobson said in a telephone interview.
In a letter to the highway agency on Dec. 17, Nathan Robb, the Klan’s den commander at Harrison, protested that the group’s rejection was based solely on ″disagreement with our political views.″
Robb is the son of Thom Robb, national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
In denying the request, officials cited the potential for increased litter thrown by Klan opponents and the bad image it would give the state.
″It would be ’Welcome to Arkansas - KKK,‴ said Ralph Fulton, the state Highway and Transportation Department’s district engineer in Harrison.
The KKK apparently was the only group ever denied participation in the program, said agency spokesman Bill Stanton.
Typical participants in the Adopt-a-Highway program include civic clubs, Chamber of Commerce organizations, school organizations and businesses.
Jacobson said if a lawsuit is filed, it’ll probably be in federal court. Department attorneys have said they’re confident the agency would win in court.