Postal Service suspends changes amid multistate lawsuit, including MN

MSR file photo

After increased pressure and outrage over changes made to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday that any further changes to the USPS will be suspended until after the November 3 election.

The announcement came just as 20 states, including Minnesota, announced plans to file federal lawsuits against the Postal Service. The lawsuit charges that the proposed changes to USPS are politically motivated attempts to suppress the November 3 vote and ultimately threaten critical mail delivery such as life-saving prescription drugs.

“Minnesotans and Americans everywhere are in the grips of a deadly global pandemic, the likes of which no one has seen in a century,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison in a statement. “In this environment, President Trump and his administration have taken sudden, dramatic, and unprecedented steps to undermine one of the longest-standing, most trusted institutions in America: our post office, which we rely on for everything from masks and life-saving medications to exercising our right to vote.

“For the administration to attack the Postal Service at this critical moment in our history is deeply disturbing. It requires that we step forward immediately to protect this public service, our right to vote, and people’s lives,” continued Ellison. 

DeJoy has stated that the proposed changes were an effort to improve the financial standing of the USPS. He said those changes would be halted to avoid the appearance of wrongdoing before the election. Yet, there was no mention of the changes already made to the USPS, as some 969 of its 4,926 mail sorting machines have already been removed.

Minnesota officials expect 1.2 million Minnesotans to cast absentee ballots in the November election. Under Minnesota law, an absentee or mail ballot must be received no later than 8 pm on Election Day order to be counted. In light of the global health pandemic caused by COVID-19, this deadline has been postponed by one week for the 2020 general election, pursuant to a consent decree entered by a state district court.

Attorney General Ellison was joined in filing the lawsuit by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who led the coalition, and the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro also announced today that he is leading a coalition of states that includes California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and North Carolina in filling a similar lawsuit.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla reacted to DeJoy’s announcement in a statement, saying, “It is not enough to merely suspend operational changes, they need to be reversed. There should not be cuts to postal service, particularly during this pandemic.”

The lawsuits will continue to be filed, according to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who appeared on CNN’s “Breaking News” with Wolf Blitzer.

DeJoy is scheduled to testify at a Senate committee hearing on Friday and will appear before the House Oversight Committee next week.

Information provided, in part, by the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General