ACLU Statement on Minutemen Adopting Stretch of Freeway
Caltrans recently assigned a stretch of Interstate 5 to the San Diego Minutemen as part of the Adopt-a-Highway road clean-up program. In what the state transportation department described as a coincidence, the section of highway consigned to the militant anti-immigrant group is along the Border Patrol’s checkpoint site near San Clemente.
Certain statements in the press might be taken to infer that the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the Minutemen being granted the right to participate in this program.
While the ACLU believes that it is the government’s responsibility to take care of civic projects such as highway maintenance and clean-up, if such a program does exist, the First Amendment prohibits the government from denying access based on advocacy of certain beliefs, however repugnant those beliefs might be to many.
In a similar case in Missouri, in which the Ku Klux Klan sought to adopt a stretch of highway, the federal courts held that a state may not deny participation in adopt-a-highway programs based on viewpoints, belief or advocacy. While “state officials and private citizens alike may oppose the Klan’s racially divisive views and express disapproval of those views in the strongest terms,” the court held “the First Amendment protects everyone, even those with viewpoints as thoroughly obnoxious as those of the Klan, from viewpoint-based discrimination by the State.”
While the ACLU abhors the Minutemen’s ideology and tactics, the First Amendment protects them, as it protects everyone. Those who disagree with their positions and actions may choose to ignore them, or to speak out against them.