A coalition of states has filed a motion in a federal court to immediately block recent operational changes within the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which have drawn widespread scrutiny.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Thursday announced that he is asking a federal court to halt USPS actions until his lawsuit plays out in court. Shapiro says the postal service changes in recent months had led to significant delays in postal operations and could have an impact on mail delivery during the November presidential election.
This comes after Shapiro filed a lawsuit, on behalf of five other states and the District of Columbia, to challenge the postal service changes in August.
In the motion filing, the states argue Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s actions “reckless and misguided” as well as “unlawful.” They say it is unlawful because the USPS failed to seek an opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission before implementing a range of changes in July. They argued that without meeting the requirements, it had led to delays to mail operations.
The states also argue that DeJoy’s actions had “unlawfully interfered with the States’ constitutional authority to manage their own elections.” They argued that by making changes so close to an election, they risk delays that could result in the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters in the States.
The outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus during an election year thrust the issue of mail-in voting into the spotlight as large numbers of Americans are predicted to vote by mail in order to avoid crowds at polling locations. Yet, concerns over whether the USPS would be able to deliver mail-in ballots on time came into focus after the agency’s general counsel and executive vice president, Thomas J. Marshall, sent letters to multiple states warning them that it might not be able to meet mail-in deadlines.
Many lawmakers and critics alleged that DeJoy’s decision to restructure the national postal service just months prior to the November election is designed to limit mail-in voting.
Following the outcry, DeJoy later said that the USPS would suspend some operational changes until after the election in order to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
But that has not stopped states from filing lawsuits against the USPS and the Trump administration, who say they need more “binding agreements” from DeJoy.
When DeJoy, a Republican donor, assumed the postmaster general position, the USPS was facing complaints from President Donald Trump and others that it was hemorrhaging money. It was also already facing complaints about delayed packages and mail, as more people started shopping online in the midst of the CCP virus pandemic.
He announced on Aug. 7 sweeping changes to the leadership structure of the organization, as part of efforts “to operate in a more efficient and effective manner and better serve customers” amid concerns over the financial position of the agency.
He said the financial position of USPS is “dire” and without “dramatic change,” the agency will “face an impending liquidity crisis.” His changes resulted in at least 20 postal executives reassigned to new roles or displaced. These cost-cutting measures have reportedly resulted in mail backlogs across the country, further elevating worries that ballots won’t be delivered in time for the November election.
DeJoy recently testified before Congress in front of a Senate panel where he assured that “the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on-time.”
He has also defended the operational changes and clarified inaccuracies about what he’s done in front of a House panel, including misinformation that he directed the removal of blue collection boxes or the removal of mail processing equipment.
“First, I did not direct the removal of blue collection boxes or the removal of mail processing equipment,” he said during his opening statement.
“Second, I did not direct the cutback on hours at any of our post offices. And finally, I did not direct the elimination or any cutback in overtime. I did, however, suspend these practices, to remove any misperceptions about our commitment to delivering the nation’s election mail. Any further assertions by the media or elected officials is furthering a false narrative to the American people.”
Shapiro’s preliminary injunction follows a similar motion filed by New York’s attorney general, who is also seeking to block the USPS from implementing its recent changes in a bid to restore postal operations to pre-June standards while her lawsuit plays out in court.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Zachary Stieber and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.