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Multi-State Lawsuit Filed Against Trump Admin Over Removal of USPS Collection Boxes, Mail Sorting Machines

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: U.S. President Donald Trump makes remarks at the beginning of a meeting with Congressional Republicans in the State Dining Room at the White House May 08, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump insisted that the national economy will recover this year from the damage caused by novel coronavirus pandemic, saying, "I'm calling it the transition to greatness."

The attorneys general of three states and top attorneys for two cities filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday, claiming that the defendants have directed and overseen changes to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that violate federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

According to the lawsuit filed by a host of Democrats, the significant administrative and operational changes the USPS has undergone over the past several months were part of the Trump administration’s “concerted effort to interfere with the agency and with states’ plans to expand mail-in voting due to the public health crisis.”

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the attorneys general of New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and the City Attorneys for San Francisco and New York City.

“The agency eliminated or substantially altered a number of operational policies and practices that were mission-critical to the timely delivery of mail,” the complaint stated. “Specifically, the U.S. Postal Service removed hundreds of collection boxes and high-speed sorting machines; cut or curtailed overtime; prohibited needed late trips and extra trips; and began a pilot program in almost 400 localities that turned how the agency processes mail on its head.”

The coalition of AGs asked the court to declare that recent changes to the agency were unconstitutional and in direct violation of the agency’s statutory authority under federal law. The complaint argues that under the Postal Reorganization Act (PRA) of 1970, Congress mandated that the USPS abide by specific statutory commands before taking any actions that may affect its policies or operations, which include submitting a proposal explaining the modifications, hold a public hearing, and request an official advisory opinion.

“Under the comprehensive statutory scheme governing the agency, the U.S. Postal Service was required to seek an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission prior to undertaking new nationwide policies, and give the highest consideration to the timely, efficient processing and delivery of important letter mail to the entire population of the United States,” the lawsuit stated. “The agency’s actions not only fail on both counts, but, along with the Trump Administration’s conduct, also interfere with states’ constitutional duty to administer their own elections.”

In response to the alleged unlawful conduct, the bloc of attorneys general asked the court to vacate all the recent changes made to the USPS under Trump and DeJoy’s leadership, and to halt the agency from implementing any further the changes on the grounds that they violate statutory and constitutional law.

“This USPS slowdown is nothing more than a voter suppression tactic,” New York’s Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “Yet, this time, these authoritarian actions are not only jeopardizing our democracy and fundamental right to vote, but the immediate health and financial well-being of Americans across the nation. We will do everything in our power to stop the president’s power grab and ensure every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot come November.”

James has been an aggressive adversary of the Trump administration since taking office. Last year she shut down the president’s personal charity, even getting him to admit to illegally using its funds to benefit his 2016 presidential campaign. President Trump also had to pay a $2 million penalty.

On Monday, James filed a series of court documents against President Trump’s businesses—specifically singling out his son Eric Trump. James is attempting to force disclosure of sensitive financial information as part of a fraud investigation. She also wants to compel Eric Trump’s testimony.

Earlier in August, James filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association, accusing the non-profit’s top executives of engaging in rampant fraud.

See below for the full complaint:

NYAG USPS Complaint by Law&Crime on Scribd

[image via Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.