Washington, Pennsylvania lead lawsuits over postal changes

The attorneys general of Washington and Pennsylvania announced Tuesday that they are leading states suing to block service changes at the U.S. Postal Service, even as the postmaster general reversed himself and said he’d halt some of the changes following a national outcry.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, both Democrats, cited policy changes that include limiting worker overtime and late or extra shifts in the lawsuit announcement, which came a day after several individuals and political candidates sued in New York state to stop the postal service changes.

Federal law requires the Postal Service to go through specific procedures before making changes that affect nationwide service, including a review by the Postal Regulatory Commission and a public comment period.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor with with no prior postal management experience, did not follow those procedures, the attorneys general said in the lawsuit announcement.

“What’s going on right now is nothing less than a full-on assault by this administration on the U.S. Postal Service, an institution that millions of Americans rely on every single day,” Ferguson told a news conference.

DeJoy announced Tuesday he would suspend the closure of mail processing facilities, that retail hours would not be cut and that overtime would be allowed. But Shapiro and Ferguson said they would keep the lawsuit active to make sure that the promises will be kept.

“We need to see binding action to reverse these changes,” Shapiro said.

While much of the outcry has focused on the ability over the postal service to deliver mail-in ballots in November, Ferguson and Shapiro stressed that slow mail delivery also affects important correspondence and medical prescriptions.

The Veterans Administration fills about 80 percent of its prescriptions by mail and many senior citizens who are not veterans get their medicine by mail, with the coronavirus pandemic driving mailed prescription deliveries higher, Ferguson and Shapiro said.

Ferguson said he would file his lawsuit in federal court in the Eastern District of Washington on Tuesday and that 13 states were joining it — including Wisconsin, Nevada, Minnesota and Michigan. His case names as defendants President Donald Trump, DeJoy and the postal service.

Shapiro said California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine and North Carolina were joining Pennsylvania’s case, which will be filed in the coming days in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. That case names DeJoy and the postal service’s board of governors as defendants.

So far, all of the attorneys general signing onto both cases are Democrats.