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The Minutemen Adopt-a-Highway — Allowed to Keep It Clean?

When the San Diego Minutemen, an anti-illegal immigration group known for taking border patrol laws into their own hands became a member of Adopt-a-Highway (the keep-it-clean volunteer road service) they were quite surprised by the stretch of highway they were given. Their assigned turf was near a Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 5, a main route known for carrying illegal migrants into the United States from Mexico.

The state however has since decided to remove the sign crediting their litter patrolling. They fear demonstrators or vandals would create a safety hazard along the highway — as well as fearing harm to the Minutemen who would be clearing litter on that stretch. To see their response,


The Minutemen contend otherwise. Their attorney said, “we can’t have our free speech because if we do, people who don’t like it might become unruly and unlawful.” And made a more pointed accusation by saying, “we were moved to silence our message in response to pressure from the open border advocates and the Latino caucus.” The US District Judge appeared to agree with the Minutemen on that point. “It would seem you’re saying you’re allowing the people who are unhappy with the message to dictate who can be in the program.”

The Adopt-a-Highway has had another controversial patron in the past. In 2005, the Ku Klux Klan adopted a stretch in Missouri and when the Adopt-a-Highway group tried to discontinue their membership, the Supreme Court sided with the KKK despite the Adopt-a-Highway’s regulation prohibiting groups that deny membership with a documented history of violence. State legislators — to contrast the image of a hate-based group advertising on publicly-owned land — renamed the length of highway adopted by the KKK, the Rosa Parks Highway.

In the Minutemen's case, the lawyer for the state said that the Adopt-a-Highway signs are just a "thank-you" from the state, not political messages protected under the First Amendment. If the Minutemen are doing the work of keeping the road clean, are they entitled to a sign? Was the state right to remove the sign before it caused trouble? Should controversial groups be allowed to volunteer — and get credit?


Join The Conversation
rickimc rickimc 9 years
I always wondered why part of that highway was called the Rosa Parks Highway. Wow, I live in St. Louis but I had to find the answer on the web.
stephley stephley 9 years
I'm standing by my 'no sign' position. It costs up $150 to replace a sign, don't know what they cost new, but when you add the cost of attorneys to deal with nonsense like this in court, it's not worth it. If a business cares about the community, it'll clear up the patch of roadway with or without a sign. Employees can wear t-shirts with the name of the company while they work. I pick up trash in my neighborhood without applause all the time. Even if these were the only two lawsuits to come from the program, it's too many.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Oh, and the worst Adopt-a-Highway screw up was the "Illiterate Drunk Driver's Club". That really blew up in their faces.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I remember when KFC used to sell parfait. It wasn't as disgusting as one might think. Actually, it was quite delicious.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Back in the day Roy Rogers used to make their strawberry shortcake sunday with corn bread, so I'll give you a point on that one hypno. :)
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
A key point in my twisted little mind is that the Minutemen did not select this stretch of road, it was assigned. If they had chosen it to intimidate or harass anyone, I would have been a bit uncomfortable with that. (But only a "bit".) Stephley: The signs are a thank-you for volunteer hours provided to the state. They're a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for people to pick up litter along the roads. Personally, I think jail and prison inmates should do this work. raciccarone: NAMBLA supports and promotes illegal activities and crimes against children. Joke falls flat. :splat: I heard about this case when the story first broke. It's outrageous that lawbreakers should silence law-abiding citizens. Thanks heavens at least one judge has some sense!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Some of my friends think I'm nuts but hot cornbread w/vanilla ice cream. Mmm Mm M!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Nutty Bars are the best! And swiss cake rolls! And out comes my inner fat kid! mmmm :feedme:
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
my granny called me patootie, and i called a little girl that once and she got SO mad at me! She said I called her a "poot."
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I used to love nutty bars!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Hey you know sweet patootie is my favorite dessert stephley.
stephley stephley 9 years
What about 'my sweet patootie'? Or are Rosie O'Donnell and Lucy from Peanuts not the kind of women Esquire meant?
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
You're so right hypnoticmix. I added the crucial word (illegal). My fingers got ahead of me... As for Big Debbie... I read this thing in Esquire this month how women need all nicknames to be smaller than a loaf of bread. Buttons, mouse, sweet pea, pat of butter... all small. "Mini-van" was not recommended. So I guess Debbie vetoed "Big"?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
What ever happened to big Debbie?
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
And that Little Debbie Snack Cake sign near the diabetes clinic. So stupid.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Well first of all if I'm not mistaken minute men are anti illegal immigration not anti immigration. Secondly it is not the groups that oppose their philosophy that dictated the sign be brought down. It is concern for public safety which dictated the sign come down. Regardless of group or issue the trump card has is and always will be public safety. Is it fair? No, but neither is getting shot at while your picking up fast food wrappers. I'll take my personal safety over a sign thank you.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
I can understand the legal standpoint, I guess, but it does seem self-defeating to have an organization adopt a stretch of road to keep it litter-free if that means more litter and problems will probably occur there because it's a controversial organization. But it sounds like maybe the Adopt a Highway program could have used some strategic thinking and given them a different space.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
The N.A.M.B.L.A. sign right behind the Boy Scouts of America sign on Interstate 95 in New Jersey was also a stupid idea.
stephley stephley 9 years
Why the heck are taxpayers paying for signs like that anyway? If they're going to be so devisive, take them down. If you won't clean up the highway unless you get a public thank you, you're a stinky citizen.
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