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New York state Attorney General Letitia James speaks at a press conference on November 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NY Attorney General Files Federal Lawsuit, Demanding Trump and DeJoy Reverse 'Authoritarian' Changes Made to USPS

"During this critical time, Americans deserve better than a mail slow-down rooted in political gamesmanship."

Julia Conley

Accusing President Donald Trump of "authoritarian actions," New York Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against his administration over its changes to the U.S. Postal Service. 

The state of New York was joined by Hawaii, New Jersey, and the cities of New York and San Francisco in the legal challenge. 

On social media, James condemned the disruption of mail delivery across the U.S., pointing to its "life-threatening impacts" on people who need medications, pensions, and paychecks, as well as its expected impact on the general election. 

"This USPS slowdown is nothing more than a voter suppression tactic," 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."

With millions of Americans expected to vote by mail this year to avoid spreading the coronavirus at in-person polling places, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's elimination of overtime hours, removal of mailboxes and mail-sorting machines, and slashing of post office hours has been denounced by civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers in recent weeks.  

The lawsuit led by New York State comes a day after DeJoy, a Republican megadonor, testified before the House Oversight Committee, admitting to lawmakers that he knew little about how the agency he oversees operates and refusing to cooperate with requests for documents about the changes he's made.

In the lawsuit, James raised alarm over Trump's open and emphatic attempts to undermine the mail service at the same time that the president was baselessly claiming that an election conducted largely by mail would yield a fraudulent result. 

"Changes in USPS operations are in line with President Donald Trump's repeated and public statements in opposition to mail-in voting and his intent to impair the delivery of mailed ballots by cutting off the resources needed for the USPS to operate," James said, "because mailed ballots would specifically harm Republicans' abilities to win elections, even going so far as to make clear last month in a tweet that 'Republicans, in particular, cannot let this happen!'"

Other officials involved in the lawsuit described how people in their cities and states have already been negatively impacted by DeJoy's changes, and how the election could be undermined by the sabotage of mail delivery. 

"Now more than ever San Franciscans are relying on the USPS to deliver critical services, like medication, legal services, and election mail," tweeted San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

"Countless people in New Jersey and across the nation, including some of our most vulnerable citizens, rely on the mail for prescription drugs and other things that help them survive," said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. "During this critical time, Americans deserve better than a mail slow-down rooted in political gamesmanship."

Following public pressure, DeJoy said last week that he would suspend further changes to the mail service until after the Nov. 3 election, but when speaking to lawmakers on Monday he declined to commit to reversing the changes already made.  

James and the coalition of law enforcement officials joining the lawsuit are calling on the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia to "vacate all the recent changes made by the USPS and halt the USPS from further implementing the changes on the grounds that they violate statutory and constitutional law."

"No individual, organization, entity, or elected official is above the law," tweeted James. "Period."

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