Officials in an Alabama county accused of illegal redistricting disputed the charge Saturday, saying the districts were legally redrawn to reflect population changes.
“Jefferson County has not yet received a lawsuit, but it would contend that their districts were drawn based on population changes in their districts and in accordance with applicable law,” said Jefferson County Attorney Theo Lawson, in a statement. “We will review and respond appropriately in defense of the County’s actions” when notified of the lawsuit.
Lawson was responding to a federal lawsuit filed Friday by the NAACP Legal Defense and others that argue the county has illegally packed black voters into two districts, preventing them from exercising greater political power in the three surrounding districts.
REP. GOP. DAN KNODL WINS HIS WISCONSIN SENATE SEAT, CREATING REPUBLICAN SUPERMAJORITY IN HOUSE
Lawson noted that the two majority-black districts were created by a consent decree intended to ensure that black Americans would have two representatives of their choice in at least two districts in the state.
The 1985 consent decree created the two districts, expanding the commission from what had been three at-large positions, so that black voters would have the opportunity to choose candidates of their choice. But, the suit contends, the county packed people of color into districts in larger numbers than necessary in the years that followed.
Black voters make up 40% of the voting-age population in the county, but in Districts 1 and 2 they make up 76.34% and 64.11%, respectively, of the voting-age population, according to the lawsuit .
“For more than a decade, the Jefferson County Commission has grouped black voters into two Commission districts, ensuring that communities of color have less influence on the Commission than they would under a fair system,” said the Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton said in a statement Friday. .
The lawsuit also accuses the county of using an abbreviated process to draw new lines, holding only one public hearing.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
The lawsuit comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on a challenge to Alabama’s congressional districts that accuses state lawmakers of splitting historically black communities to create one majority-black congressional district and keep the other six districts mostly white.
A three-judge panel ruled that the congressional map likely violated the Voting Rights Act and ordered the state to create a second congressional district where black voters were at or near a majority of the voting-age population of him The state appealed and the Supreme Court stayed the redistricting order. The justices heard oral arguments in the case in October. In that hearing, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority appeared open to making it more difficult to create majority-black electoral districts.