A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction regarding controversial changes at the U.S. Postal Service that have been pushed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump, ahead of the November presidential election.
“The states have demonstrated the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service,” U.S. District Court Chief Stanley Bastian said in a ruling in Yakima, Washington, on Thursday, per the Associated Press.
The ruling blocks the Postal Service from implementing its so-called “leave behind” policy, a recent operational change that’s reportedly delayed tens of millions of package by requiring postal trucks to leave at set times regardless of whether all the mail has been loaded. The judge also ordered the USPS to treat all election mail as first-class mail, as opposed to its slower-moving categories, and reinstall mail processing equipment that has been decommissioned under DeJoy’s command. Bastian said that these changes, which have prompted significant public outcry, created “a substantial possibility many voters will be disenfranchised.”
“Although not necessarily apparent on the surface, at the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement,” he said, according to a Bloomberg report. “DeJoy’s actions fly in the face of Congress’s intent to insulate the management of the Postal Service from partisan politics and political influence.”
In the opinion, Bastian cited Trump’s repeated and unfounded attacks against the validity of mail-in voting in his ruling (as if on cue, shortly after this injunction went live, Trump earned yet another warning label on one of his tweets for posting misleading information about the mail-in voting process). The judge also highlighted the suspect timing of DeJoy’s plans to “overhaul” the Postal Service’s operations amid an international pandemic and hotly contested election. And he referenced lawsuits filed by the Republican National Committee and Trump’s re-election team in an attempt to keep states from circumventing new restrictions on ballot boxes.
“It is easy to conclude that the recent Postal Services’ changes is an intentional effort on the part of the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections, especially given that 72% of the decommissioned high speed mail sorting machines that were decommissioned were located in counties where Hillary Clinton received the most votes in 2016,” he wrote.
Fourteen states, all led by Democratic attorneys general, sought the injunction in a lawsuit against the Trump administration and USPS: Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. After significant pushback, DeJoy promised Congress in August that he’ll mostly suspend his planned overhaul until after November’s election. However, some of these changes remained in place in battleground states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada, prompting state officials to seek a court order to protect the USPS services from deteriorating further.
“If there ever were a mandate for the need of a nationwide injunction, it is this case,” Bastian wrote.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson called the ruling a “major victory in our lawsuit to protect the U.S. postal service” on Twitter Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Election Mail Committee Chair at the Postal Service’s board of governors, Lee Moak, essentially called the whole thing ludicrous.
“Any suggestion that there is a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service is completely and utterly without merit,” he said, per Bloomberg.
But the data tells a different story. A Senate report released Wednesday found that the changes DeJoy began implementing in July caused an estimated 85 million more packages to arrive late in just one week. Several districts have reported nearly a 20 percent drop in on-time deliveries from the Postal Service in August.
A bombshell report in the Washington Post on Thursday also found substantial evidence that Trump’s repeated claims about the USPS bleeding money to Amazon are just as unfounded as the rest of the bullshit that spews from his mouth on a daily basis. In reality, Amazon generated roughly $1.6 billion in profit and $3.9 billion in revenue for the USPS in fiscal year 2019, according to documents obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight.
Earlier this month, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform launched an investigation into DeJoy concerning allegations that he led a GOP donor scheme. In interviews with the Post, five of his former employees accused him of illegally using company bonuses to reimburse them for donating to Republican candidates.
In addition to Thursday’s suit, Pennsylvania is still involved in a separate multistate lawsuit over DeJoy’s USPS operations overhaul, and New York and Montana have also filed challenges, according to AP.