|RICHMOND (September 17, 2020) – A federal judge in Washington has granted Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump Administration’s changes to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). During a hearing this afternoon, Judge Stanley A. Bastian, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, found that the Trump Administration was “involved in a politically motivated attack” that would “harm the states’ ability to administer the 2020 general election.”
Last week, Attorney General Herring filed the motion seeking to “[bar] continued implementation of [US Postal Service] changes before they can further interfere with Americans’ daily lives and the November 2020 election.” Last month, Attorney General Herring announced that Virginia was joining a multistate coalition in filing a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s drastic operational changes at the USPS that threatened critical mail delivery services and could undermine the national election in November.
“Today’s ruling is a huge win for voters everywhere and the judge saw right through the Trump Administration’s blatant attempts at voter suppression and thinly veiled attacks on our democracy,” said Attorney General Herring. “Now that these hasty, illegal changes have been blocked, we must work to identify and reverse any damage that has already been done before November. The election this fall is probably the most important election we will ever vote in and today’s ruling will help ensure that every Virginian’s vote counts, whether they decide to vote in person or absentee.”
Judge Stanley A. Bastian will issue a detailed written order this afternoon. The judge said his order would substantially follow the state’s motion. In their motion for a preliminary injunction, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues asked the judge to order the Postal Service to:
- Immediately stop its “leave mail behind” policy, where postal trucks are required to leave at specified times, regardless if there is mail still to be loaded
- Continue its longstanding practice of treating all election mail as First Class mail, regardless of the paid postage
- Replace, reassemble or reconnect any removed mail-sorting machines that are needed to ensure timely processing and delivery of election mail
- Abide by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s public commitment to suspend the recent policy changes that have affected mail service until after the election
Earlier this month, Attorney General Herring asked Virginians and businesses to share their experiences related to impacts from recent, hasty changes the Trump Administration has made to the USPS and announced that he had set up a dedicated email address with his office (USPS@oag.state.va.us) where Virginians can easily share their stories. Since asking Virginians to share their experiences, Attorney General Herring has heard from many folks about issues they are having including mail not being delivered on time, delays in individuals getting their medications, and other negative impacts.
Additionally, Attorney General Herring sent a letter demanding “additional information on any recent operational or infrastructure changes that could affect mail service in Virginia, and details on plans to reverse any such adverse change” following reports of alleged ongoing reductions and changes at Dulles Processing and Distribution Center and Merrifield Processing and Distribution Center, both in Northern Virginia.