Daily Briefs

 Activist sues the state after anti-war plate is rejected as offensive

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Washtenaw County man is suing the state over its refusal to grant a license plate that says “WAR SUX.”

David DeVarti is joining a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that challenges how plates are judged by the Secretary of State. The lawsuit in Grand Rapids federal court accuses the state of violating the First Amendment by broadly controlling speech.
 
DeVarti says his request for a six-letter anti-war message was rejected as offensive.

Iraq war veteran Michael Matwyuk of Kingsford had trouble getting a plate that uses a variation of the word “infidel.” The state approved it in September and said any problems were an oversight.

State law bars plates that might be offensive. The state has until Dec. 5 to respond to the amended lawsuit.
 
 

Alabama parole board approves pardons for ‘Scottsboro Boys’ 

 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s parole board approved of granting posthumous pardons in the infamous “Scottsboro Boys” rape case on Thursday morning.
 
The board made the decision during a hearing in Montgomery for three black men whose convictions were never overturned in a case that came to symbolize racial injustice in the Deep South in the 1930s.

Nine black males were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in northeast Alabama in 1931. The men were convicted by all-white juries, and all but the youngest defendant was sentenced to death.

The case became a symbol of the tragedies wrought by racial injustice. The Scottsboro Boys’ appeals resulted in U.S. Supreme Court rulings that criminal defendants are entitled to effective counsel and that blacks can’t be systematically excluded from criminal juries.

The case inspired songs, books and films. A Broadway musical was staged in 2010, the same year a museum dedicated to the case opened in Scottsboro.

Five of the men’s convictions were overturned in 1937. One defendant, Clarence Norris, received a pardon before his death in 1976. At the time, he was the only Scottsboro Boy known to be alive. Nothing was done for the others because state law did not permit posthumous pardons.

In April, the Alabama Legislature passed a law to allow the parole board to issue posthumous pardons for cases more than 80 years old where the convictions involved racial discrimination.

The three Scottsboro Boys considered by the parole board on Wednesday were Charles Weems, Andy Wright and Haywood Patterson.

The board said the other five — Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams and Roy Wright — were not eligible under the new law because their convictions were overturned on appeal and the charges dropped.