Inside the Ku Klux Klan
A female and male member of the Ku Klux KlanJohnny Milano/Reuters

A local Georgia chapter of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan might soon get a stretch of US highway named after the KKK thanks to a recent court ruling.

Champions of the notorious group came from a surprising camp: The American Civil Liberties Union.

The state initially dismissed the KKK's request for the highway name on the grounds that its "long-rooted history of civil disturbance would cause a significant public concern". But the ACLU backed the white supremacists' chapter in court, citing a violation of free speech.

Now the state's supreme court has denied a court action by the state agency to block a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and KKK branch demanding the chapter's right to participate in the Adopt-A-Highway programme. The programme allows signs to dedicate sections of highways to organizations or individuals that pick up litter in the section of roadway.

The KKK branch, the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, has battled for years to have its name on road signs on a one-mile stretch of Georgia Highway 515 near the North Carolina state line, reports the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

The court decision primarily ruled on a technicality, saying the state agency that tried to block the KKK, the Georgia Department of Transportation, hadn't followed the correct procedure for filing an appeal.

But the judge also ruled that the state agency should be prohibited from rejecting applications to certain groups based solely on a "history of civil disturbance".

The court decision means the KKK lawsuit filed by the ACLU can now go to trial.