The New York attorney general on Wednesday filed a motion in a court seeking to immediately block the recent operational changes within the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) aimed at helping the agency reduce costs.
The attorney general, Letitia James, has asked a U.S. District Court to immediately 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. James has accused the Trump administration of slowing mail operations in the lead up to the November presidential election.
“We won’t sit idly by as he tries to suppress democracy and every American’s fundamental right to vote. We are filing this motion to stop the president dead in his tracks and to ensure every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot come November,” James said in a statement.
Last week, James filed a multi-state lawsuit to block USPS policy changes by asking the federal court to declare the changes unconstitutional and prevent any further changes without an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission.
The lawsuit claimed that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s changes would significantly undermine the postal service’s ability to handle mail-in ballots in November, something the James and the other attorney generals expect would be taken up by a large number of residents living in their 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.
The Trump administration drew intense scrutiny after DeJoy 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 the 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 drawn concerns that it would result in mail backlogs across the country, further elevating worries that ballots won’t be delivered in time for the November election.
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.
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 the 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.”
The USPS and DeJoy are also facing lawsuits from at least 25 states that argue that DeJoy had acted outside his authority to implement changes to the postal system, and did not follow the proper procedures under federal law.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.