- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - African-American lawmakers in Alabama urged federal judges on Tuesday to reject newly redrawn legislative districts, saying Republicans are still using racial gerrymandering to maintain white GOP control of the state’s largest county.

The Alabama Legislative Black Caucus filed its objections to the latest plan approved by the GOP-controlled Alabama Legislature. The caucus argued that “race is the predominant reason” the districts of white Republicans still extend into Jefferson County “to maintain more majority-white than majority-black districts” in the county’s delegation.

“There is no non-racial excuse for the Legislature’s refusal to reduce the number of majority-white House and Senate districts extending outside Jefferson County into surrounding counties, when eight majority-black House districts and three majority-black Senate districts are contained wholly within Jefferson County,” lawyers for the caucus wrote.

The caucus did not object to the redrawn lines of the majority-black districts, which had been the chief concern in the lawsuit that led to the redistricting order.

A three-judge panel in January ordered lawmakers to redraw legislative districts before the 2018 elections. In that decision, federal judges struck down a dozen Alabama legislative districts, saying Republicans relied too heavily on race in deciding where to draw lines. The Legislative Black Caucus and the Alabama Democratic Conference had argued that African-American voters were “stacked and packed” into designated minority districts to make neighboring districts whiter and more likely to elect Republicans.

Racial and partisan control of Jefferson County, which also is the home of the majority-black city of Birmingham, has been a bitter point of contention between lawmakers debating legislation affecting local governments. The new map is expected to maintain a slim Republican majority in the Jefferson County delegation.

Tuesday’s filing noted that there is close correlation between race and party affiliation in the state.

Republicans have argued that the new map addresses the problems found by the court in January.

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