Louisiana is trying to regain the congressional seat it lost after the 2010 census showed a population shift toward states with the largest numbers of illegal immigrants, such as California and Texas.
States are assigned seats in the U.S. House of Representatives based on their populations.
The Louisiana lawsuit appears to demonstrate the extent that illegal immigration is distorting U.S. population figures to the point it affects political districting.
The lawsuit also represents the first time a state has petitioned the Supreme Court directly to ask that illegal immigrants be left out of the census count.
About 11 million illegal immigrants live in the United States, according to the Census Bureau.
A new census is not required, merely a recalculation of 2010 population figures after discounting illegal immigrants, according to the Supreme Court petition filed by Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.
If illegal immigrants are not counted, Louisiana would get seven of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, the lawsuit says. Instead, Louisiana will get six seats.
State lawmakers were forced to redistrict their congressional seats in a special legislative session in March. The next congressional elections are scheduled for November 2012.
States with large numbers of illegal immigrants benefit “at the expense of states containing relatively few,” the lawsuit in Louisiana v. Bryson says.
Louisiana is one of five states losing congressional seats “to which they are entitled” while at least three states gain seats “to which they are not entitled,” the lawsuit says.
As a result, the votes of U.S. citizens are less valuable “in terms of electoral power” in states with the fewest illegal immigrants, the lawsuit says.
It will take 748,160 Louisiana voters to elect a congressman compared with 656,452 in California, Louisiana’s attorney general argues.
The lawsuit accuses the Census Bureau of violating a constitutional provision requiring a census every 10 years of legal residents, not of everyone who happens to be in the United States.
The lawsuit draws authority from Article 1 and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
It also coincides with increased activism among states to act independently against illegal immigration.
Arizona and Alabama have been the most aggressive by passing laws authorizing local police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants.
Opponents filed lawsuits to block the state laws in federal court. The lawsuits are being appealed after Arizona’s law was struck down by a federal district court.
On Tuesday, illegal immigrants protesting the Alabama law were arrested outside the state capitol building.
A small group calling itself the Alabama Youth Collective sat down in the street near the state house and shouted slogans such as “undocumented, unafraid” and “stop the hate.”
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released more information from its 2010 census showing the number of foreign-born residents in the United States, both legal and illegal, has reached its highest level in American history at about 40 million.
Of those, 14 million arrived between 2000 and 2010.
Mexico is by far the source of the greatest number of immigrants at 12 million. China, Hong Kong and Taiwan together are second with about 2.1 million.