Jefferson County Commission (JCC) president Jimmie Stephens told 1819 News on Monday that the JCC is reviewing a lawsuit filed against it by activist groups accusing it of racial gerrymandering. 

Black Lives Matter Alabama co-founder Cara McClure, the Greater Birmingham Ministries and the NAACP filed the lawsuit on Friday. The plaintiffs accused the JCC of violating the Voting Rights Act in 2021 by packing black voters into two central commission districts to prevent them from having significant influence over districts elsewhere in the county.

According to the lawsuit, 40% of Jefferson County voters are black, but approximately 70% of voters in Districts 1 and 2 are black. 

Stephens said that the JCC is currently looking for legal counsel but insisted that the redistricting did not involve race and that members of the JCC represent their constituents regardless of their race or political affiliation. 

According to Stephens, the JCC performed redistricting in accordance with Alabama law. It also took into consideration a federal consent decree from 1985 that ordered the then three-district JCC to create five districts, two of which contained a majority black voting population. 

“We will look at [the lawsuit] in detail and look for good outside legal counsel to help us on it,” Stephens said. “Lawsuits such as this can divide a unified commission from outside forces, and our intentions are not to let that happen … What we did was to follow the law. It was non-discriminatory, purely based on population.”

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