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Shaheen & Group of Senators File Brief in Support of Legal Challenges to USPS Changes Ahead of 2020 Election

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and a group of U.S. Senators led by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) filed an amicus brief yesterday in support of legal challenges to recent operational changes implemented by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that have resulted in unreliable service and widespread delays ahead of the 2020 election.

The group of lawmakers included U.S. Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tom Carper (D-DE).

The Senators’ amicus brief focuses on the Postal Reorganization Act, which Congress passed to insulate postal service operations from partisan influence and to ensure accountability to the public. The Postal Reorganization Act makes the Postmaster General responsible to the Postal Regulatory Commission and to the American people, rather than the President, and requires USPS to follow certain procedures before implementing operational changes that could impact mail service. The brief argues that by failing to request an opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission or provide an opportunity for public comment, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s recent operational changes to USPS violate federal law.

“Congress passed [the Postal Reorganization Act] not to impose modest requirements on the Postal Service but to provide a substantial buffer between management of the Postal Service and partisan politics, as well as to ensure accountability to the public,” the Senators wrote in their brief. 

They continued, “Here, the Postal Service has implemented significant institutional changes that have already affected service nationwide without seeking the requisite input from the independent Postal Regulatory Commission or the American public.  These changes exemplify the kind of partisan decisionmaking and lack of public accountability that Congress designed the Postal Reorganization Act, as amended by the PAEA, and the Postal Regulatory Commission to prevent.”

The Senators’ brief was filed yesterday by the Constitutional Accountability Center in support of two ongoing lawsuits seeking to hold the Trump administration accountable for its efforts to disrupt USPS operations and the timely distribution of mail: NAACP v. U.S. Postal Service and New York v. Trump.

The lawsuit brought by the NAACP alleges that the operational changes authorized by Postmaster General Louis Dejoy were implemented in an attempt to disenfranchise voters of color, who are already more harshly impacted by the coronavirus and require alternative methods to in-person voting to protect their health and safety.

The lawsuit led by the New York Attorney General and joined by six additional states and the District of Columbia argues that significant and recent changes to USPS operations under Postmaster General DeJoy’s leadership have substantially delayed the delivery of mail in their states and across the country.

The full text of the Senators’ brief is available here and here.