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State vs. ??? - Rights of whom???

3620 Views 95 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  Ciberblade

Does the state have the right to deny access to one of its programs if it deems a group unfit in its eyes to particpate?


Does any group have the right to join a voluntary state program?

Since this case germinated in my home state, and since I was prez of the caving club that became the first in the state to participate in its Adopt-A-Highway program, I've been following this case for many years now. Sadly, I can see both sides of this coin, but... this is the KKK we are talking about [yet, where/how do you draw the line? what line can be drawn? and who has the right to even draw a line??? :confused:], and I really abhor what they stand for and their past practices. So, therefore, I would have voted against their "right" to participate. What really irks me also is that the nation's supreme court has gave the right to the KKK by not hearing this case on its merits... by dismissing the case, the KKK won??? BS! :( :mad:

Supreme Court won't consider KKK litter cleanup case
By Gina Holland, Associated Press 01/10/2005

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Missouri lost a Supreme Court appeal Monday over its decision to bar a Ku Klux Klan group from a highway litter cleanup program.

The court's rejection, made without comment, means that the KKK chapter must be allowed into Missouri's Adopt-A-Highway program, which is designed to save money by using volunteers for garbage pickup. Volunteer groups are publicly thanked with signs along the highway acknowledging their help.

Every state but Vermont has such a program. States supporting Missouri in the appeal argued that the Supreme Court needed to intervene so that states unwilling to partner with the KKK would not decide to abolish their programs.

The dispute involves a half-mile stretch of Missouri 21 near Potosi, a town of fewer than 3,000 in the eastern part of the state. [a beautiful part of the state; yet this road, in parts is also termed "blood alley" due to the frequency of accidents on its stretches...]

A KKK chapter sought permission to pick up trash along the road, but was turned down because the program is not open to groups that discriminate based on race or those that courts have said have a history of violence.

Missouri lawyers had argued that a sign marking the KKK stretch of road could lead to more dumping, and could endanger highway workers mistaken for Klan members.

The Klan sued and won on grounds that it had a First Amendment free speech right to participate.

In its appeal, Missouri attorney Erwin O. Switzer III said state leaders are "trying to avoid giving motorists the mistaken impression that the state has anything good to say about a horrific, racist group." He argued that the case was about government speech, not speech of the group.

Robert Herman of St. Louis, the attorney for the KKK, said that the group wants to do its part in community service and to express "solidarity with the community."

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that Missouri's "desire to exclude controversial organizations in order to prevent 'road rage' or public backlash on the highways against the adopters' unpopular beliefs is simply not a legitimate governmental interest that would support the enactment of speech-abridging regulations."

Texas Solicitor General R. Ted Cruz, who filed a brief on behalf of 10 states that backed Missouri, said that states unwilling to partner with the KKK may "forgo the economic benefits of having volunteers pick up tons of roadside trash each year." The 10 states are Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont.

The case is Rahn v. Robb, 04-629.

Some additional history:
High court allows KKK to adopt a highway
March 5, 2001 Web posted at: 5:40 p.m. EST (2240 GMT)
From staff and wire reports

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court Monday allowed the Ku Klux Klan to participate in a Missouri "adopt-a-highway" program in which volunteers pick up roadside trash and in return receive a sign recognizing their efforts.

Monday's action was not a decision on the merits of the case.

The court turned down without comment an appeal by Missouri that argued the state should be allowed to prohibit the Klan from participating in the program because the organization does not accept blacks and other minorities as members.

The high court also rejected a separate U.S. Justice Department appeal arguing the nation's civil rights laws would have been violated by allowing the Klan to participate in a program run by a state agency that receives federal funds.

Missouri appealed an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that said Missouri must allow the Klan to join the highway cleanup program and that the state unconstitutionally rejected the Klan because of its views as a racist organization. Missouri's lawyers said the state had a right to control its own speech and that allowing the Klan to participate would violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibition on racial discrimination in federally funded programs.

Law Professor David Cole, who teaches constitutional law at Georgetown University in Washington, called it "a stretch" to say the Klan's participation in the highway program violates the civil rights act. "The Klan, like everyone else, can pick up garbage on the highway," Cole said. "They can't be penalized because they discriminate. Lots of groups discriminate. The Boy Scouts discriminate against gays. But when and if they [Ku Klux Klan] engage in criminal conduct or violence, the state should go after them."

Jeff Briggs, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation, which administers the highway cleanup program, said officials were reviewing the Supreme Court's action.

"It's what I expected right from the beginning. With us it was a purely constitutional issue," said Thomas Robb, national director of the Ku Klux Klan in Harrison, Arkansas. The case began in May 1994 when Michael Cuffley, the top official in the Missouri organization of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, filed an application to participate in the Adopt-A-Highway program by cleaning up a half-mile segment of Interstate 55.

The stretch of highway is one of the routes used to bus black students to county schools as part of court-ordered desegregation efforts in the St. Louis area, a program the Klan opposes.

The state denied the Klan's application. Missouri said nine other states have rejected similar Klan requests: West Virginia, Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Kansas, Georgia, California, Arkansas and Alabama. Missouri cited the Klan's membership, which is limited to "Aryans." The Klan excludes anyone who is Jewish, black, Hispanic or Asian. Missouri also said the Klan violated state and federal anti-discrimination laws, and that it had a history of unlawful violence. :down:

The Klan sued, arguing that its exclusion from the program violated its constitutional rights. A federal judge ruled for the Klan and in March 2000 the 8th Circuit Court concurred.

The 8th Circuit said the state would not violate the federal civil rights law by letting the Klan adopt a stretch of highway. "So long as the state does not deny anyone an opportunity to adopt a highway on an improper basis, the state does not violate Title VI [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964]," the appeals court said. The court said the Klan, as one of many voluntary participants in the highway beautification program, is free to determine its own membership.

"Requiring the Klan essentially to alter its message of racial superiority and segregation by accepting individuals of other races, religions, colors, and national origins in order to adopt a highway would censor its message and inhibit its constitutionally protected conduct," the 8th Circuit wrote.

The appeals court also rejected Missouri's discrimination-related reasons.

The court wrote that "the state has never denied the application of any other group on the grounds of discriminatory membership. A quick glance down the list of participants in the Adopt-A-Highway program, however, reveals many adopters that have discriminatory membership criteria. For example, it is commonly known that the Knights of Columbus, a venerated service organization that has chapters adopting many stretches of highway across the state, limits its membership to Catholic men."

In the appeal acted on Monday, Missouri's lawyers said the Constitution's free-speech guarantee protects the state from having to post signs "suggesting that the state approves of, and is grateful for, the Klan's participation" in the program.

The Klan's lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union said the First Amendment protects the organization "against those who would misuse government power to suppress political dissidents."

A group of 28 states supported the appeal, saying the highway sign conveyed more than information, or even thanks. "It also implies a message of acceptance, a message that the state regards the Klan as a valuable member of society just like the Rotary Club or the Jaycees who have adopted the next stretch of highway down the road," the states said.

The 8th Circuit said the First Amendment protects everyone, "even those with viewpoints as thoroughly obnoxious as those of the Klan, from viewpoint-based discrimination by the state."

The court added, "There are better ways of countering the Klan's repellant philosophy than by the state's engaging in viewpoint-based discrimination. In a myriad of constitutionally sound ways, state officials and private citizens alike may oppose the Klan's racially divisive views and express disapproval of those views in the strongest terms. [ok, like passing motorists will now chuck trash at workers and/or maybe extra garbage along that route?]

"But viewpoint-based exclusion of any individual or organization from a government program is not a constitutionally permitted means of expressing disapproval of ideas -- even very poor ideas -- that the government disfavors."
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It seems to me that part of the issue is the sign by the side of the road, presumably put up by the state, declaring who adopted that particular stretch of highway. It is especially repugnant to think that those signs will give that group some air of acceptability.

I'll take GB at his word about what Maryland did, and second the notion that Mississippi should follow suit. Sadly, there will always be another lawyer willing to appeal on behalf of trash that wants to pick up trash!

Rep ~ look up NAMBLA, on an empty stomach (you don't want to lose your lunch), anyone involved in governance should know about these scum.
SepiasSoul - the answer to that query is in line w/ what Raeli replied with, and I was fixin' to post until I read his... ;) To the state of Missouri [MO = Missouri :)], in this case, that was one of their beefs - that this sign would be there, proclaiming to all that went past that the KKK was partnering w/ the state to clean up trash on state/fed property.

Now, as I mentioned in my earlier posts, I am torn - torn between the right of the state to "pick and choose" [as pointed out above regarding another state, thanks!] vs. the right of any group to participate, no matter how vile, etc. "we, the peoples" may think they are.

Matter of fact, I actually took the side of the KKK in a discussion I had tonight on way to cavers club meeting. My "side" said, ok fine, lets say that "we" don't let the KKK join. Fine. However, then whom are we to decide who gets to join our program, where is the line drawn??? Ok, what about the Boy Scouts [I was/am an Eagle, so I can pick on 'em ;)]? The are prejudiced against gays, should we allow their dislike of another group of society to weigh in our decision to not let them join our program?

But, IF you don't draw a line, somewhere,,, then that means that ANY group can join??? [forgetting for the sake of this argument that the state doesn't have a law to allow them to be able to pick and grin and choose]. FWIW, I do believe that MO did indeed redo their requirments, but the KKK brought against the state another suit. Maybe third time is the charm?
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hey, hobbs :)

while i agree with you that it must be the right of the states to choose whether to limit this kind of volunteering to an "appropiate" sponsor, as a citizen, i feel more closely aligned with sepia on this.....

the state has no problem taking their tax money and educating their kids...and even the kkk has the right to take an interest in a civic duty such as this, regardless of their despicable attitudes in other areas.
g'evening iltos! :)

Ok, what about the following discussion:
In the 2nd paragraph, the article discusses that the Court has decreed there be three separate "forums" regarding right to free speech, and thereby the Court has specified different rules for speech expressed within each forum:
1. the traditional public forum,
2. the limited or designated public forum,
3. the nonpublic forum.

HOWEVER... now look, for example, in paragraph four:
"While the Court has explicitly described the limits a government may place on speech in each type of forum, the Court has offered lower courts virtually no guidance in determining what analysis applies to any given location. The courts do not know whether to define the location scrutinized broadly or narrowly. Therefore, they do so indiscriminately, based, at least in part, on the decision they wish to reach.

And now, paragraph five:
The public forum doctrine has proved unworkable in practice. This difficulty became clear in the recent Adopt-A-Highway Cases in Missouri, Texas, and Arkansas. In these cases, four different federal courts, confronted with three substantially similar programs, approached the public forum doctrine in fivedifferent ways. Therefore, the courts reached threedifferent decisions regarding the type of forum at issue.

There are a bunch of juicy parts to this document, esp. down near pages 575 and such, but... its late. ;)
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LANMaster said:
As much as I despise the KKK, Their right to participate is protected under the first amendment to the US Constitution.

Now, what I want to know is are Churches also allowed to participate?
I wish you and Little Nipper would get off your preoccupation with religion! :rolleyes:
bassetman said:
I wish you and Little Nipper would get off your preoccupation with religion! :rolleyes:
It isn't a preoccupation with religion. I brought up the Church issue because of a tax status question. Nothing more. :)
Infidel_Kastro said:
just a point LAN. Maplethorpe was a freak, but did not do the "art" in question. I believe the image you are referring to is entitled "Piss Christ" and was done by an equally weird "artist" by the name of Andrew Serrano.
Here's the link in question.

BTW, I agree with LAN in theory as far as tax payers money being used, by I defend the artists right to make themselves look stupid.
Thanks for the correction. :up:
MSM Hobbes said:
g'evening iltos! :)
Ok, what about the following discussion:
the link doesn't work for me :( , but your comments seem to indicate that even "the law" is confused on this issue....that's we can both be right! :)
Rep said:
No, just taking a section from a longer quote and quoting a paragraph or a sentence or two.
Alright...when you click to quote the opens the advanced reply page with the whole persons quote already listed like so:
[ quote]words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want

words you want words you want words you want words you want words you want words you want

words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want words you dont want

[ /quote]
All you need to do is highlight the words you don't want (shown in red here) and delete them...only keeping what you want and the quote tags inside the square brackets ;)
I still cant agree with the groups not being allowed to adopt a highway, and once again I bring up the prison issue. Prisons are allowed to display that they have adopted a highway, and on anouther note, prisons are also used as manufacturing facilitys. I own a wooden pig, yes I know its strange (the pig), but on the back of it there is a made in location which is the maryland federal penitentary and it also lists the names of the prisoners who worked on that particular project. Now I find that would be more offensive than allowing non-convicted, presumably innocent, citizens the ability to benifit society.
Welcome to TSG, SepiasSoul.
A wooden pig from a prison? I hope all the holes are plugged.
:eek: sorry. couldn't resist.
iltos, and others foolish enought that may be interested... try this link instead: Sorry about that :(

SepiasSoul, again, good point, but my argument is that equating prisoners w/ the KKK is not on the mark, IMHO, in regards to this case. I have no problem at all w/ prisoners doing work to keep their hands from being idle, and/or from them contributing to society in some manner [that issue of my taxes paying them to watch TV, etc. is fodder for another thread ;)]. I just have an issue that the KKK can have a sign proclaiming their name along a highway - and for the most part, they are only adopting in areas where they know durn well their name will provoke fear, hatred, and the such. In my warped mind, if they really really just only cared about particpating in a clean-up program, there are many many miles of highway available - yet,,, they just have to pick these areas? :sarcastic:
MSM Hobbes said:
iltos, and others foolish enought that may be interested... try this link instead: Sorry about that :(

......I just have an issue that the KKK can have a sign proclaiming their name along a highway - and for the most part, they are only adopting in areas where they know durn well their name will provoke fear, hatred, and the such. In my warped mind, if they really really just only cared about particpating in a clean-up program, there are many many miles of highway available - yet,,, they just have to pick these areas? :sarcastic:
thanks, hobbs :up:

man, can the courts manage to muck this up any more, or what? does seem reasonably simple....your bolded point above is well taken, and my reading of the courts definitions re: forums makes it impossible to assume that this roadside where people are whizzing by is a "public forum"....that notion is absurd...

....and that, taken with your observation re: location, boils down to this, for me....if the state's (and your) concern is the history of the kkk, and its intent vis a vis those portions of the highway it wants to clean up, then to me the balance is not to prohibit the kkk outright, but just put 'em on "probation".....ASSIGN 'em street sections

because, for me, this thinking applies instead....from your link
Most high school civics
students are familiar with Justice Holmes’s recognition that the 'protection of
free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and
causing a panic.'
this seems to me precisely why THE STATE dedicates a sign to recognized the sponsor, rather than allowing the sponsor to put up anything it wants to toot its own horn

if their intent is truely to
convey that they are environmentally conscious
and politically and socially correct
then they can damn well except the probation based on their own history (consequences and all)....

because i still feel that this is true
The Commission, however, did not afford this
presumption (of good intentions) to the Klan
which i believe to be key to the freedom of speech

further the courts, in their definitions of the "three forums", seem to me to have allowed the state total discretion as to WHERE any sponsor is allowed to exhibit is concern and civic pride....this is the definition of a "non public forum".....the most restrictive of the three
The Supreme Court defines a nonpublic forum by what it is
not. Any forum “which is not by tradition or designation a forum for public
is a nonpublic forum. Examples of nonpublic forums are
street light posts, prisons, military reservations, polling places,
statutorially-required meetings of school administrators and a teachers
union, and a school district’s internal mail system.
it seems obvious to me the state has the right to control the location and type of any "advertising" on it's public land along roadsides, simply because it ain't no public forum.
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I agree with Hobbes, this is may involve the first amendment, but I see as analogous to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. I can imagine no greater impulse by many motorists upon seeing KKK members on the side of the highway than to throw something at them or worse drive at them. This is surely creating a disturbance and inciting violence.
Lets look at this objectively, shall we. there has been talk that Klansmen on the side of the road would inspire ahtred and potential violence from motorists.
The problem is that it would be the CITIZENS, not the Klan members who would be at fault here. Once again, i don't believe in what the Klan's message is, but do any of you not see the reverse discrimination in this? If the highway had been adopted by the NAACP, and a bunch of Klansmen drove by and threw things at them, or as Rawmeat said, drive into them, you all would be going after the Klansmen, but reverse the sitaution, and you are all still going after the Klansmen.
This is not like yelling "Fire" in a movie theatre. This is freedom of assembly and association. You don't have to like it. You don't have to believe in it. But you sure as hell have to accept it if you want to live with the freedoms we have now.
You compare the NAACP to the Klan--you have to be kidding. When is the last time the NAACP lynched a white man or set a cross afire in front of his house?
linskyjack said:
You compare the NAACP to the Klan--you have to be kidding. When is the last time the NAACP lynched a white man or set a cross afire in front of his house?
I was comparing mindsets, LJ.
For the Klan, their anti-thesis for this argument would be the NAACP, and vice-versa.
I think I would make a special trip by them just to throw some trash at them.
Perhaps the doggie poop from my yard.

Hey, this may turn out to be a great opportunity. How far into Missouri is "their" mile?

It may be worth the trip.
NO, for the Klan the antithesis would be the Black Panthers or the Nation of Islam.
linskyjack said:
NO, for the Klan the antithesis would be the Black Panthers or the Nation of Islam.
Or Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
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