When the Republican Party chose to challenge the results of the 2020 Presidential election, many noted the parallels between this legal effort and the 1931 murder trial of the ” Scottsboro Boys”. Now, President Donald Trump’s team of lawyers is invoking that same case in their efforts to contest the vote results from several states.
The trial of the nine African American teenagers by an all-white jury in Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1931 remains one of the country’s most infamous instances of racial injustice. The nine defendants—known as the Scottsboro Boys—were accused of rape, despite what seemed like coerced confessions and scant physical evidence. After a series of highly contentious trials, the group would eventually have their convictions overturned and be released.
This case has now become a stark reminder of the racial disparities in the American criminal justice system as President Trump’s lawyers seek to overturn the election results in several states. In legal filings, the Trump team has compared the Scottsboro trial to the current elections. They argue that, similar to the Scottsboro case, this election features the same kinds of “unjust and unconstitutional burdening of the constitutional rights of racial minorities”.
In trying to prove their case, the lawyers have tried to link minority voter suppression to certain states, and draw various parallels between the Scottsboro case and the 2020 elections. This comparison appears to have been an intentional ploy to gain favor with the Southern electorate by emphasizing a shared past in the form of a legal narrative.
Additionally, some legal experts suggest that President Trump is using this moment to gain leverage in the legal proceedings. It has been argued that if the team makes enough comparisons between the Scottsboro case and the 2020 election, they might be able to convince the court to issue an injunction or injunction of sorts that would suspend the certification of some of these states’ results.
The Trump team is attempting to make the comparisons sound as convincing as possible, but it is uncertain how far a case based on a comparison to the Scottsboro trial will go. On one hand, it could be seen as a sign of the Trump team’s intention to uphold the principle of equal protection under the law, with reference to a particularly notorious case of racial injustice in the nation’s history. On the other hand, by invoking the specter of the Scottsboro Boys, they are trying to use the memory of a painful racial history to support political ends.