Blue States Seek Injunction Against Postal Service Shakeups

A person drops applications for mail-in-ballots into a mail box in Omaha, Neb., on Aug. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

(CN) — A coalition of Democratic attorneys general have requested a preliminary injunction to reverse operational changes in the U.S. Postal Service that slowed down mail delivery ahead of the November presidential election. 

The seven attorneys general, which had sued over the changes last month, filed their motion for an injunction Wednesday in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“The U.S. Postal Service is an American institution. For many, it’s a lifeline — their Social Security or paychecks, their medicine, their connection to loved ones. And for a vast, growing number, it’s their franchise to democracy,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement Thursday. “President Trump’s sabotage of the USPS is un-American. It’s an attack on free and fair elections and our right to vote.”

The changes ordered by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a staunch Trump supporter and North Carolina businessman, have led to a widespread slowdown in mail delivery across the country, according to the motion.

The changes include eliminating overtime for mail carriers, reducing post office hours and removing postal boxes. The resulting delay, alongside Trump’s expressed effort to decrease post office funding, sparked concern that the changes will hinder mail-in voting for the presidential election and disenfranchise voters amid a pandemic.

“The effects of these changes have been widespread and well-documented. The delivery of mail has been delayed across the country. Prescription medicines have taken weeks to be delivered; hearing notices have failed to arrive on time; essential benefits have been delayed; and countless other mailpieces—from birthday cards to e-commerce purchases to payments for small businesses—have been held up,” the motion states. “Yet despite these delays, and the resulting public outcry, defendants have refused to undo the changes.”

DeJoy said in a statement last month that work on service changes, which he said were meant to address the Postal Service’s critical financial situation, will take place after the election.

“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” he said.

But the attorneys general argue much of the damage has already been done and the Postal Service has not kept its promises.

“By implementing changes threatening such widespread harm so close to an election in which more Americans will vote by mail than ever before, defendants have unlawfully interfered with the constitutional authority of the states,” the motion states. “Defendants’ changes are unlawful and, if left in place, will continue to cause irreparable harm to the states and their residents—including irreparable harm to the fair administration of the November 2020 general election.”

The case is being brought by Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

 Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement Thursday that DeJoy’s promises to delay the controversial changes “have been proven false.”

“We need the court to step in and stop changes that have prevented postal workers from doing their jobs,” Shapiro said. “Veterans, seniors, business owners, and everyday Pennsylvanians rely on the Postal Service during this ongoing health pandemic, and with an election looming, we need court oversight to ensure everyone has full faith in the Postal Service at this critical time.”

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