Federal judge says DeJoy’s actions hurt mail service
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
A federal judge has ruled that some of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s initial actions in 2020 slowed mail service and should have first been reviewed by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
In an Oct. 6 opinion, Senior Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia found fault with the way DeJoy removed 711 canceling machines, cut overtime and eliminated late or extra mail deliveries to postal facilities — all changes that the judge said slowed mail service in 2020.
The judge directed the U.S. Postal Service not to eliminate any mail delivery trips, but he stopped short of ordering some of the steps two cities and three states sought in their lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., against President Joe Biden, DeJoy and the Postal Service.
“Even if the court may agree with plaintiffs that the Postal Policy Changes resulted in mail delays across the country, the court cannot substitute its own judgment of what is prompt, reliable, and efficient for that of the Postal Service,” Sullivan wrote.
Sullivan did find that DeJoy’s “multiple policy changes” in the summer of 2020 “contributed to the decline of mail service and the overall confusion of postal workers.”
The judge rejected many of the Postal Service’s arguments, including a claim that DeJoy’s changes did not hamper the flow of 2020 election mail.
Sullivan found that it did.
DeJoy’s directives to slow the number of late and extra deliveries from mail-processing plants “were the primary factor in affecting service on a nationwide or substantially nationwide basis,” the judge said.
His 65-page ruling came in a lawsuit filed in 2020 by the states of New York, New Jersey and Hawaii and the cities of New York and San Francisco.
Democrats in Congress were then charging that DeJoy’s actions were a partisan effort to make voting by mail difficult.
A major Republican Party financier, DeJoy had just been named to head the USPS by a board of governors composed of appointees of then-President Donald Trump, a Republican who strongly opposed mail-in voting.
DeJoy has vehemently denied he was attempting the sabotage of voting by mail and has defended his other actions as continuing existing postal policies.
Asked to comment on Sullivan’s ruling, Martha Johnson, a USPS spokeswoman, echoed DeJoy’s sentiment.
“Any suggestions that the Postal Service or anyone in Postal Service leadership, up to and including the postmaster general, at any point in time was not fully committed to supporting our democratic process is inconsistent with the facts and our performance in 2020 and 2021,” she said.
“We continue to believe that the lawsuit was not justified under the facts or supported by the applicable law. We are studying the opinion to determine our appropriate next steps,” Johnson said.
“Just as we always have been, the U.S. Postal Service remains fully committed to the secure, timely delivery of the nation’s Election Mail,” she said.
“Between now and the November election, we are highly focused on fulfilling our critical role as part of the country’s electoral system where election officials or voters choose to utilize us as a part of the process,” Johnson said.
Sullivan did not grant a request from the states and cities to name a monitor to oversee that the USPS complies with his order, but the thrust of his ruling was to reject the Postal Service’s arguments.
“The evidence demonstrates that [plaintiffs] suffered harm by impeding their ability to combat the spread of COVID-19, impeding their ability to provide safe alternatives to in-person voting,” Sullivan said.
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