September 18, 2020
Carson City, NV -Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford issued the following statement after federal Judge Stanley Bastian granted a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking drastic operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). These operational changes, if continued, could threaten critical mail delivery for Nevadans and undermine the integrity of the upcoming election.
"The Postal Service's mission is to provide Americans with reliable, affordable, universal mail service, and I have been fighting to ensure all post offices in Nevada are able to do just that," said AG Ford. "Amid a global pandemic and just two months shy of the election, President Trump tried to institute reckless changes and budget cuts to the U.S. Postal Service. My office didn't stand idly. We sued, and I'm proud to see that our efforts have paid off. The court's ruling will ensure that these illegal changes to the Postal Service are blocked and that all Americans depending on mail for critical services like prescription medications, Social Security, and unemployment checks can rest easy."
In his order, Judge Bastian concluded that "at the heart of DeJoy's and the Postal Service's actions is voter disenfranchisement," constituting "an intentional effort on the part [of] the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections." Judge Bastian further noted that the Postmaster's "actions fly in the face of Congress's intent to insulate the management of the Postal Service from partisan politics and political influence." Finally, Judge Bastian recognized that the Postal Service's actions had the "unintended but very serious consequences of interfering with other essential government functions such as collecting fees and taxes, sending pension payments, and enforcing local ordinances, as well as interfering with the provision of critical health care services."
To view a copy of Judge Bastian's order click here.
Last week, AG Ford and a coalition of 13 states filed a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent major operational changes to the USPS, including:
- Requiring the Postal Service to continue its longstanding practice of treating all election mail as First Class mail, regardless of the paid postage;
- Preventing the Postal Service's "leave mail behind" policy, where postal trucks are required to leave at specified times, regardless of whether all mail has been loaded onto the truck;
- Requiring the Postal Service to replace, reassemble or reconnect any removed mail-sorting machines that are needed to ensure timely processing and delivery of election mail; and
- Requiring the Postal Service to abide by Postmaster General DeJoy's commitment to suspend the recent policy changes that have affected mail service until after the election.
On August 18, 2020, AG Ford and a coalition of states filed suit in response to Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's operational changes to the USPS that threaten critical mail delivery for all Nevadans. The Postal Service cuts, including eliminating staff overtime, altering operations at state distribution centers and removing critical mail sorting equipment, threaten the timely delivery of mail to individuals who rely on the Postal Service for everything from medical prescriptions, social security checks, to ballots.
For many Nevada businesses, from large distribution companies to small, home-based businesses, the Postal Service is a critical part of their business model to deliver goods purchased by consumers across the country. During the pandemic, online shopping has skyrocketed. Preventing consumers from receiving their purchases in a timely manner will impede Nevada's economic growth at a time when we need it most.
Eligible Nevadans have been able to vote by mail for many years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nevada State Legislature passed a bill to mail ballots to all active, registered voters. Nevadans are counting on the Postal Service to deliver their ballot to their homes in a timely manner.
President Trump stated that the service cuts at the Postal Service have a partisan motive: "They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. They don't have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can't do it, I guess."
Impacts on Seniors and Veterans:
Postal Service cuts threaten timely mail deliveries for a range of important services, from prescriptions to utility bills. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Americans, especially seniors and other high risk individuals, to rely increasingly on mail delivery services while they stay at home for their health. In general, seniors rely heavily on the mail to receive essentials like medications, Social Security benefits and even groceries.
The policy changes have already impacted our country's veterans, who are reporting much longer wait times to receive mail-order prescription drugs. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), which provides broad health care services to veterans nationwide, fills about 80 percent of veteran prescriptions by mail. The VA processes about 120 million mail-order prescriptions per year - 470,000 a day. The Postal Service makes daily prescription deliveries to 330,000 veterans across the country.
In their suit, the states asserted that the Postal Service acted outside of its authority to implement changes to the postal system and did not follow the proper procedures under federal law. The law requires that changes at the U.S. Postal Service that cause a nationwide impact in mail service must be submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The Commission then evaluates the proposal through a procedure that includes public notice and comment. The federal government's failure to perform this mandatory duty deprived the states of their statutory right to notice and comment on USPS' nationwide service changes.
In addition to Nevada, attorneys general from the following states are members of the coalition: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The August 18, 2020 filed suit and preliminary injunction are linked here and here.