Seventeen states, the District of Columbia, and six cities sued the US government Tuesday, saying the addition of a citizenship question to the census form is unconstitutional, the AP reports. Federal funding and congressional representation are at stake in the dispute over the Trump administration's move to reinstate the citizenship question to the 2020 census. It would be the first time in 70 years that the government uses the form sent to every household to ask people to specify whether they are US citizens. New York Attorney General Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who announced the new lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, said the plans would have a "devastating effect on New York, where we have millions of immigrants." "It's unlawful. It's unfair," Schneiderman said at a news conference.
Schneiderman added that it would end a longstanding bipartisan effort to ensure the census is accurate and that the Bureau of the Census carries out its mandate to conduct a full and fair count of the population, including citizens and non-citizens. The NAACP has said the plans for the census will lead to a massive undercounting of blacks. The lawsuit, which also included the bipartisan US Conference of Mayors as a plaintiff, said adding the citizenship demand to the 2020 census questionnaire was arbitrary and will "fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count." It asked for a ruling that the citizenship demand is unauthorized and unconstitutional. California's attorney general filed a separate lawsuit last week that seeks to block the citizenship question from being added to the census questionnaire.