PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal judge in Philadelphia joined others Monday in ordering a halt to recent Postal Service cuts that critics say are causing mail delays and threatening the integrity of the presidential election.
Six states and the District of Columbia presented “compelling evidence” from the U.S. Postal Service itself that shows “a pronounced increase in mail delays across the country” since July, the judge found.READ MORE: Ohio Reports More Deaths Than Births In 2020; Experts Cite Pandemic
“In a pandemic, states are even more reliant on the mail, especially when it comes to administering elections,” U.S. District Judge Gerald A. McHugh Jr. wrote in granting a preliminary injunction.
Postal Service officials have previously said they would consider their legal options as injunctions were issued. Spokesperson David A. Partenheimer said the agency did not have an immediate response Monday.
Postal Service officials say new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy never ordered a slowdown or overtime ban. However, their lawyers conceded in court last week that local managers may have interpreted the guidance from Washington that way.
Because of that lack of clarity, McHugh said, a national injunction that echoes three others issued this month was necessary.READ MORE: Jackpot-Winning Lottery Ticket Worth $1.75 Million Sold In Indiana County
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the lead plaintiff in the case, said in a statement:
“This is a major victory and confirms – for every senior who has not received their timely shipment of prescription drugs and every voter who needs the reliable delivery of their mail-in ballots – that Postmaster General DeJoy was making false promises. The Postal Service cannot make random, negative changes that affect Pennsylvanians’ daily lives, and the court is helping to ensure that everyone has full faith in the Postal Service at this critical time.”
While service began rebounding toward the end of summer, no Postal Service region was meeting the agency’s target of delivering more than 95% of first-class mail within five days, according to data obtained this month by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Shapiro was joined in the Philadelphia case by attorneys general in California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina and the District of Columbia. Federal judges in Washington state and New York issued similar orders this month.
In the former case, which involved several presidential election battleground states, U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian said the state officials had made a “strong showing” that the Trump administration was using the Postal Service “as a tool in partisan politics.”MORE NEWS: COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Reports 3-Day Total Of 989 New Cases, 11 More Deaths
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