After announcing Tuesday that he was filing a lawsuit to stop U.S. Postal Service changes delaying mail delivery, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro did not back down once he learned that the postmaster general said he was halting his reforms.
“I guess I’ll say, I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Shapiro in a conference call with Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson during which the two discussed their separate lawsuits in federal court to force Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from continuing to implement operational changes that Democrats claim are geared to stifle mail-in balloting in the November election.
Ferguson said his office has won 30 of 31 cases it has filed against the Trump administration and that DeJoy’s announcement that he would abandon changes until after the election did not surprise him because DeJoy’s actions cannot be defended if challenged in court.
“This administration over and over again violates the law in a haphazard fashion,” Ferguson said. “We believe that’s the case here.”
While Ferguson would file a federal lawsuit in his state, Shapiro said his lawsuit would be filed in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. Eventually, about 20 states would be joining either of the two suits, Shapiro said.
Shapiro said the lawsuit would argue that DeJoy illegally bypassed the Postal Regulatory Commission and public hearings when implementing what DeJoy has described as cost-cutting moves, such as eliminating overtime, and removing mailboxes and mail-sorting machines.
By unilaterally ordering the operational changes to the Postal Service, DeJoy violated Pennsylvanians’ constitutional rights, Shapiro said. Besides the threat to mail-in voting, Shapiro said Pennsylvanians are not receiving their medications and benefit payments on time.
“The Postal Service is a public service,” Shapiro said. “One that was working quite well until new leadership swooped in and began to implement changes that disrupted the order and flow of the Postal Service.”
Congressional Democrats have been clamoring for answers, especially after President Donald Trump said his withholding of additional funding for the Postal Service would hamper mail-in balloting, which he has criticized even though he votes by mail in Florida.
Shortly after Shapiro and Ferguson’s call, Shapiro joined U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Gov. Tom Wolf on another call to hammer home the impact of the Postal Service changes.
“This can only be called a five-alarm fire for our democracy,” said Casey, who summarized letters from three Pennsylvanians about the impact late arriving mail has had on their finances and health.
Casey said regardless of DeJoy’s promises, he wants Congress to continue pushing for answers. “To be blunt about it, it’s not an administration whose words you can trust,” he said.
Wolf recounted how the state Legislature passed bipartisan voting reforms that included mail-in balloting. With the COVID-19 pandemic lingering mail-in voting “is more important than ever before,” he said.
The call included comments from two Pennsylvanians, Linda Jara of Philadelphia and Charles Baldoff of Mercer County. Jara, a heart transplant survivor, said it took more than two weeks for her to receive a packet of information from a nearby hospital via the mail.
“I think it’s criminal,” she said of the changes in service.
Baldoff, a retired master sergeant who served in the Navy and Air Force, said he receives prescriptions as well as items from Medicare and the Veterans Administration through the mail.
“I may receive these late or, possibly, not at all,” he said.
The military has voted by mail since the Civil War, said Baldoff, who said a heart condition makes him susceptible to COVID-19 so he would vote by mail this fall.
“I have the right to vote,” he said. “I should not have to put my life on the line to risk doing that.”