Michigan joins multi-state lawsuit against federal government for U.S. Postal Service changes

Posted at 3:36 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 23:22:12-04

Michigan will be joining other states in filing a lawsuit against the federal government over changes to the U.S. Postal Service operations, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday.

The lawsuit is being led by Washington State and includes 13 others.

The lawsuit Michigan joins will argue that the changes proposed and already implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy are procedurally and substantively unlawful and threaten the timely delivery of mail.

According to a press release, changes to USPS operations that affect nationwide mail service must be submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission and the public must be provided an opportunity to comment.

“General DeJoy never engaged in that process here,” the lawsuit states. “As a matter of substance, these changes will have a wide range of negative consequences that violate a diverse array of federal laws, from harming individuals with disabilities in violation of the Rehabilitation Act to disenfranchising voters in violation of the Constitution.”

On Tuesday, DeJoy announced that the USPS will not implement operational changes to mail delivery until after the 2020 election.

“Recent actions taken by Mr. DeJoy are unlawful and indicate an attempt to disrupt and delay U.S. Postal Service operations,” Nessel said. “For more than 200 years, the postal service has been a fundamental part of the fabric of this country. People and businesses rely on it to deliver critical medications, correspondence and goods. We filed this lawsuit on behalf of the people of this state to ensure they can continue to depend on a system that is an integral part of our daily lives, our economic well-being and our democratic process.”

DeJoy, a longtime ally and donor to President Donald Trump took over as Postmaster General in June. Since that time, he's instituted several changes that customers and workers have said have led to delays in mail delivery, including the elimination of overtime.

In DeJoy's statement on Tuesday, he asserted that "overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed."

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to ravage the country, mail-in voting is expected to significantly increase during the 2020 election.

Trump — who has staunchly opposed universal mail-in voting — said last week that he opposed funding the USPS in order to prevent expanded voting by mail during the election.

“President Trump’s attempts to sabotage the U.S. Postal Service are deeply disturbing, and we intend to do everything in our power to mitigate their effect on Michigan residents,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a press release. “Americans rely on our Postal Service for prescription drugs, voting, Social Security checks and more. The president is putting families’ health and safety at risk in his attempt to suppress votes in the 2020 election. That’s why Attorney General Nessel, Secretary Benson and I are fighting these unlawful changes to USPS operations to protect Michigan families.”

“Every Michigan citizen has a right to vote by mail, and the U.S. Postal Service is duty-bound to ensure that right is realized for every voter,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “The foundation of any democracy is the holding of safe and secure elections. Any institution — whether local, state or federal — that plays a role in the execution of those elections is part of that foundation. To jeopardize the success of the USPS is to jeopardize the success of our democracy.”

In its lawsuit, the coalition of states argues that the changes to the USPS will “delay the receipt and postmarking of mail, harming the health and well-being of residents who depend on the mail for critical and time-sensitive items such as medications, bills, benefits payments, and legal documents. The delayed mail will include mailed ballots, affecting elections of federal, state, legislative, judicial, county, city, town, and district officers scheduled for November 3, 2020.”

Michigan is joined in the suit by Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.