A bill that would name an Athens, Ala. post office to posthumously honor a former Alabama judge has passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
The U.S. House approved H.R. 6513, to designate the United States Postal Service Office located at 1110 West Market Street in Athens, Alabama, as the “Judge James E. Horton, Jr. Post Office Building,”
Alabama 5th District U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks described Horton and why he was worthy of having a post office named in his honor.
“Judge James Edwin Horton was born in Limestone County, Alabama on January 4, 1878. Despite having no formal education until he was eight or nine, Judge Horton was accepted to Vanderbilt University’s medical studies program and, later, to Cumberland University where he earned his bachelor and law degrees. Judge Horton served in the Alabama State Legislature until he took a Limestone County, Alabama chancery court position. Thereafter, he was elected circuit court judge for Alabama’s Eighth Judicial Circuit. After reelection to a second term, Judge Horton was appointed to preside over the retrials of the highly controversial and nationally renowned ‘Scottsboro Boys’ cases,” explained Brooks.
Brooks continued, “By way of background, the ‘Scottsboro Boys’ cases involved nine African Americans, ages 13 to 20, accused of raping two white women on a train in 1931 as it traveled through Scottsboro and Jackson County, Alabama. In the first trials, eight of nine defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death, a verdict later reversed by the United States Supreme Court. After a guilty verdict and death sentence during the second set of Scottsboro Boys trials, Judge Horton bravely issued an order setting aside the jury’s guilty verdict against Haywood Patterson and ordered a new trial. In 2013, the Scottsboro Boys were formally pardoned under Alabama law.”
“For his bravery in the face of extreme racial prejudice and for his willingness to support justice that risked and ended his judicial career, Judge Horton deserves the posthumous honor of having the Athens, Alabama Post Office named for him, and it is appropriate that his legacy be held up as a guide for future generations,” Brooks concluded.
Notably, every other member of Alabama’s House Delegation cosponsored the bill.