No less than that of Sacco and Vanzetti, the Scottsboro case has achieved a symbolic significance beyond the importance of the individuals involved. Seven Negro boys were arrested in 1930, and charged with the rape of two white girls on a freight train near Scottsboro, Alabama. They were convicted. Their conviction was upheld by the highest court of Alabama. Eventually the Supreme Court held that they had been tried without due process of law. They were again convicted, and the Supreme Court held that, by excluding Negroes from jury service, Alabama had again deprived them of their liberty unconstitutionally. Once again, some of them were convicted, and are still serving life sentences. The rest pled guilty to minor offenses, and served short prison terms. Mr. Frankfurter's article deals with the first Supreme Court decision in their favor. It appeared in the New York Times for November 13, 1932.
THE RAGS and tags of cases that excite public interest usually draw the headlines. But even lay comment upon the Scottsboro decision was alive to a significance that went beyond a respite from death for seven illiterate Negro boys. In truth, the Supreme Court last Monday wrote a notable chapter in the history of liberty, emphasized perhaps in importance because it was conveyed through the sober language of a judicial opinion. The evolution of our constitutional law is the work of the initiate. But its ultimate sway depends upon its acceptance by the thought of the nation. The meaning of Supreme Court decisions ought not therefore to be shrouded in esoteric mystery. It ought