By PAI and the LABOR TRIBUNE
Yakima, Wash.— President Donald Trump and his handpicked Postmaster General – and major Trump campaign contributor – Louis DeJoy are “involved in a politically motivated attack” on the U.S. Postal Service that could disrupt the 2020 election, a federal judge ruled on Sept. 17.
Stanley A. Bastian, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, granted a request from 14 states to temporarily block operational changes within the Postal Service that have been blamed for a slowdown in mail delivery, saying policies put in place under DeJoy “likely will slow down delivery of ballots” this fall, creating a “substantial possibility that many voters will be disenfranchised and the states may not be able to effectively, timely, accurately determine election outcomes.
“The states have demonstrated that the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service,” Bastian said in brief remarks after a 2½-hour hearing in Yakima. “They have also demonstrated that this attack on the Postal Service is likely to irreparably harm the states’ ability to administer the 2020 general election.”
The ruling — the first major decision to come out of several lawsuits filed by states against the Postal Service — was a victory for voters and for 14 state Attorneys General, led by Washington’s Bob Ferguson. Washington voters have cast all their ballots by mail for years and DeJoy’s changes would deprive many of their right to vote, Bastian said. The same impact would occur nationwide, he added, especially in Democratic areas.
In a written order, Bastian laid out more than a page of specific prohibitions on the Postal Service until a final judgment is reached in the case, and connected the USPS policies to Trump’s broadsides against mail-in voting, saying the actions amount to “voter disenfranchisement.”
“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,” he wrote.
Bastian noted that 72 percent of the 671 high-speed postal sorting machines DeJoy has yanked out of postal facilities nationwide — machines equipped to handle the large envelopes containing ballots and election materials — were located in counties where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton received the most votes in 2016.
DeJoy not only had the machines removed but also dismantled or cannibalized for parts.
“It may not be readily apparent, but at the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement,” Bastian wrote, granting the AGs’ demand for an immediate injunction halting DeJoy’s schemes and ordering their rollback.
TRUMP’S OWN WORDS
Trump’s own “highly partisan words and tweets” also showed his and DeJoy’s intent, the judge said. Added to them were “lawsuits by the Republican National Committee and President Trump’s campaign to stop the states’ efforts to bypass the Postal Service by utilizing ballot drop boxes, as well as the timing of the changes.”
DeJoy’s other actions included banning overtime, ordering mail trucks to leave postal sorting stations even without being loaded, leaving undelivered mail on loading dock floors and refusing to give election mail top priority, the judge said.
“Defendants take the remarkable position that nothing has changed in the Postal Service’s approach to election mail from past years. This is simply not true,” Bastian wrote. “Statistics show there has been a drastic decrease in delivery rates.”
ADVERTISING THEIR INTENT
Most telling, Bastian said, was a banner that was hung at an Oregon Postal Service facility in early September banning workers from delaying postal trucks’ departure so they could be loaded with mail. The banner read “NO EXCEPTIONS,” “DO NOT HOLD A TRUCK. NO MORE HOLDING TRUCKS,” “Make sure every single employee in our building understands All Trips Depart on Time.”
Bastian said the banner reflects the “Leave Mail Behind” policy that was instituted in July 2020 and “is a significant change from past practice.”
Bastian ordered the USPS to “stop the leave mail behind policy,” treat all election mail as First Class, “replace, reassemble and reconnect” the 671 sorting machines and follow DeJoy’s recent commitment to Congress — a promise made under congressional Democratic pressure — to suspend his changes and rollbacks.
Congressional Republicans, in that same hearing with DeJoy, said the session was just a political show.