Fourth U.S. judge issues order blocking Postal Service cuts – Metro US

Fourth U.S. judge issues order blocking Postal Service cuts

FILE PHOTO: A box to drop off ballots stands on
FILE PHOTO: A box to drop off ballots stands on a sidewalk in Somerville

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A fourth judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. Postal Service from making service reductions ahead of the November presidential election that critics have said could prevent timely ballot deliveries.

U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh in Pennsylvania joined three other judges who have issued similar orders since Sept. 17 after the Postal Service in July restricted late trips by trucks and letter carriers and instituted overtime restrictions.

Judge Emmet Sullivan in the District of Columbia late Sunday issued a similar order, while judges in Washington State and New York issued injunctions since Sept. 17. Courts have also ordered the Postal Service to treat all election mail as first-class or priority mail express.

Sullivan wrote the Postal Service “knew that prohibiting these trips would result in delayed mail delivery.”

U.S. Postmaster Louis DeJoy, a donor to Trump who took over in June, in August agreed to suspend controversial operational changes through Election Day.

The judges have cited DeJoy’s failure to submit the changes to the Postal Regulatory Commission for an advisory opinion as required.

The Postal Service did not immediately comment Monday but said last week “the Postal Service is ready and fully committed to handling expected increased volumes of Election Mail between now and the conclusion of the November 3rd election.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday the operational changes have slowed delivery of mail across the country. He also criticized Trump for making unsupported claims about the integrity mailed ballots.

“The court has spoken. It’s time for President Trump to follow the law and stop interfering with our mail,” Becerra said of the Pennsylvania ruling. He added DeJoy’s “changes put the sanctity of free and fair elections at risk across the country and have resulted in direct harms to the states and their residents.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Franklin Paul and Aurora Ellis)