No, unless there is an action to correct current injustice and racial discrimination.
I do not believe the legislature has any power to reverse a judicial decision of a court of law in a criminal case. That is called the separation of powers, Alabama Constitution - Article III, Section 43; U.S. Constitution Articles 1,2,3. The governor cannot pardon a dead person according to the Department of Pardons. "State rules don’t allow posthumous pardons by the state parole board."
Quotes from the above article on al.com: ""It’s past time to right this wrong that was perpetrated back 80 years ago,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, one of the sponsors of the legislation. Historian Wayne Flynt said it is almost universally agreed by people who have studied the case that the nine youths were not guilty."
The wrong of 80 years ago was corrected by the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act and the removal of racist Jim Crow laws from our justice system. In this case politicians and others are seeking publicity from the suffering of the Scottsboro Defendants. Mr. Flynt's comments are true, however "it is almost universally agreed...the nine youths were not guilty" is not a valid reason for a pardon or exoneration.
What does an exoneration for the Scottsboro Defendants do today to correct injustice and facilitate race relations education? Nothing unless:
1) Significant indigent defense funds must be provided for the poor. Currently the large majority of prisoners in Alabama and the United States are minorities. According to Department of Justice statistics http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p11.pdf (Table 7 of the link pg 7) minority males comprise nearly twice the number of whites in the prison system. When looking at the statistics for the incarceration rates per 100,000 population the racial discrimination is dramatic and revealing (table 8, pg 8 of the DOJ document link); for male minorities (black and hispanic) the incarceration rate is 8.9 times the rate for white incarcerations; for female minorities the incarceration rate is equally dismal at 3.9 times the incarceration rate for white females. To solve this problem adequate defense funds must be provided and race relations education programs addressing discrimination and racism in our schools must be implemented.
2) Funding for race relations education in our school system designed to address the age old disease of racism. The creation of a Race Relations Education position within our school systems to: a)develop a race relations curriculum, and b) teach race relations related subjects for the purpose of ending racism in our state. An example may be found in Seattle, Washington: "The position comes with a broad job description that includes developing a district wide program to train staff, parents and community members on cultural awareness and understanding; devising instructional methods designed to combat institutional racism; and responding to requests for information and support from schools, departments, staff and families. http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Seattle-Pub...
If an Act of the Legislature to provide adequate indigent defense funds and a state wide system of race relations education was created in the name of the Scottsboro Defendants and attached to any bill which would attempt to exonerate the Scottsboro Defendants then the efforts of many would be well worth it. As it stands the current effort to pardon or exonerate the Scottsboro Defendants is nothing more than a charade and feel good effort to facilitate publicity for politicians and glory seekers. The bottom line is this: Race Relations Education is the key to end racial discrimination, "put your money where your mouth is" Legislature and Governor stop the glory seeking on the backs of the Scottsboro Defendants horrendous suffering at the hands of Jim Crow injustice.
"Let Justice be done though the heavens may fall." Judge James E Horton. Original photo from World Wide Photo's Cleveland Bureau (owned by G. Morgan purchased on Jun 29, 2011 from Historical Images, Memphis, Tn.) Reverse reads: