SAT Subject US History Practice Question 502: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 502

33. In Powell v. Alabama, the Supreme Court revoked the death sentences of the "Scottsboro boys" on the grounds that

A. the police had forced the defendants to confess their guilt
B. the defendants had been denied the right to a trial by jury
C. the defendants had alibis from eyewitnesses who had not been allowed to testify
D. the defendants had been denied the right to due process
E. the defendants had been framed for crimes committed by other people

Correct Answer: D


The Supreme Court found that the defendants were not assigned attorneys until the morning of the trial; thus, they had no opportunity to speak with their counsel or prepare a defense. This violated their Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and a fair trial.

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