Supreme Court hears KKK's free speech

News AASHTO Journal March 13, 2001
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Without comment the U

Without comment the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid by the state of Missouri to bar the Ku Klux Klan from participating in the "Adopt-a-Highway" program.

The high court rejected Missouri's argument that it should be allowed to bar the Klan from the program because it does not accept blacks and people of other minority groups as members. State lawyers argued that allowing the Klan to participate in the program would violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on racial discrimination in federally funded programs.

The Klan presented its side of the argument as a free-speech issue.

Missouri initially denied a bid by the Klan to join the program beginning in 1994. Following a federal appeals court's ruling that Missouri must let the Klan join the program in keeping with the U.S. Constitution's protection of free speech, signs went up in November 1999 designating a one-mile stretch of I-55 south of St. Louis as having been adopted by the Klan.

Nine other states have turned down Klan requests to join Adopt-a-Highway programs. Twenty-seven states filed a brief supporting Missouri's take on the law, saying they did not want to be "forced to validate the Klan through the erection of highway signs announcing its presence as a partner of government."

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