Attorneys General Should Sue the United States Postal Service
Why Must Voters Choose Between the Right to Vote and COVID-19 Exposure?
Amidst a general outcry and the threat of at least 20 Democratic attorneys general filing suits against the United States Postal Service (USPS), Post Master General Louis DeJoy seemed to back down from his campaign to destroy the post office’s infrastructure. His testimony, however, before Senate and House oversight committees showed otherwise. The AGs should forthwith move forward with their lawsuits.
In his testimony, DeJoy said that the Postal Service is “fully capable” of delivering election mail securely and on time. Don’t believe him. He also testified that he did not order the dismantling of sorting machines and removal of mailboxes, does not know who did, and does not intend to restore or replace the sorting machines. He also said he does not know the cost of mailing a postcard and does not know how many Americans voted by mail in 2016.
The legislation passed by the House of Representatives providing $25 billion to the USPS and restoring it to its pre-DeJoy strength will not become law. The Mitch McConnell–controlled Senate will never take it up. If the attorneys general don’t pursue their lawsuits, we have absolutely no assurance that the DeJoy-controlled USPS will process and deliver our mail-in ballots in a timely manner.
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Despite what he said, Louis DeJoy is not acting on his own. He is a Trump mega donor with no postal experience. His boss, Donald Trump, fearful that mail-in voting during a pandemic could doom his chances for a second term (65% of us favor vote by mail) is carrying out a propaganda attack on vote by mail — “Mail ballots, they cheat” — without any factual basis:
Americans have voted by mail since the Civil War. There has never been any evidence of more than de minimus vote-by-mail fraud (between 0.00004% and 0.0009%, according to a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice).
What was established at the hearings is that since Trump appointed him in June, DeJoy has fired dozens of seasoned postal staff; stopped overtime; removed mailboxes from our streets; shortened post office hours; dismantled (or destroyed) sorting machines; and informed 46 states that he cannot guarantee that their mail-in ballots will be received in time to be counted. It is simply not enough for him to tell the committees that he will stop these activities until after the election. A court needs to mandate that he restore these cutbacks.
Trump has not fared well in the courts. It is the one institution he has not been able to co-opt. His administration has suffered major legal setbacks on immigration and deregulation. Indeed, Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee, authored a landmark opinion banning discrimination against LGBTQ workers based on sexual discrimination. Chief Justice Roberts authored a 5-4 decision that blocked Trump from ending DACA, which protects from deportation hundreds of thousands brought to the U.S. as children. There is every reason to believe that a lawsuit against DeJoy and the USPS seeking injunctive relief reversing the Postmaster General’s actions would be successful.
The diabolic nature of Trump and DeJoy’s attack on the USPS cannot be overstated. Medicines are not reaching patients, including veterans, on time. Checks needed to pay bills are sitting in overflowing containers waiting for postal workers to deliver them. Clearly neither man cares about this. What is also apparent is that Donald Trump’s behavior vs. the Post Office is schizophrenic. He says absentee ballots, which are the same as voting by mail, are fine. While he is suing Democrat-run states for their vote-by-mail expansions, he says voting by mail in Florida is fine because it has a Republican governor. And, he and the First Lady voted by mail in Florida’s recent primary.
Americans love the Post Office. Of the top 50 most loved brands, the USPS ranked number one. Recent polling shows that 90 percent of us view it favorably. Americans fearful for their lives during the worst pandemic of the past 100 years should not have to choose between voting in person and staying safe from COVID-19. Lawsuits by attorneys general can ensure we don’t have to make that choice.
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