September 09, 2020

Wyden, Merkley Join Legal Brief Challenging USPS Changes Ahead of 2020 Election

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have joined 12 other senators in a legal brief to support court challenges to recent U.S. Postal Service (USPS) operational changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that have resulted in unreliable service and widespread delays in Oregon and around the country ahead of the 2020 election.

The senators’ legal brief focuses on the Postal Reorganization Act, which Congress passed to protect postal service operations from partisan influence and to ensure accountability to the public. The Postal Reorganization Act makes the Postmaster General responsible to the Postal Regulatory Commission and to the American people, rather than the president, and requires USPS to follow certain procedures before implementing operational changes that could hurt mail service. The brief argues that by failing to request an opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission or provide an opportunity for public comment, Postmaster General DeJoy’s recent operational changes to USPS violate federal law.

“Congress passed [the Postal Reorganization Act] not to impose modest requirements on the Postal Service but to provide a substantial buffer between management of the Postal Service and partisan politics, as well as to ensure accountability to the public,” the senators wrote in their brief.

“Here, the Postal Service has implemented significant institutional changes that have already affected service nationwide without seeking the requisite input from the independent Postal Regulatory Commission or the American public. These changes exemplify the kind of partisan decisionmaking and lack of public accountability that Congress designed the Postal Reorganization Act, as amended by the PAEA, and the Postal Regulatory Commission to prevent,” the senators continued.

The senators’ brief was filed Sept. 8 by the Constitutional Accountability Center in support of two ongoing lawsuits seeking to hold the Trump administration accountable for its efforts to disrupt USPS operations and the timely distribution of mail: NAACP v. U.S. Postal Service and New York v. Trump. The lawsuit brought by the NAACP alleges that the operational changes authorized by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy were implemented in an attempt to disenfranchise voters of color, who are already more harshly impacted by the coronavirus and require safe access to reliable mail-in voting to protect their health and safety.

The lawsuit led by the New York Attorney General and joined by six additional states and the District of Columbia argues that significant and recent changes to USPS operations under Postmaster General DeJoy’s leadership have substantially delayed the delivery of mail in their states and across the country.

Along with Wyden and Merkley, the brief was joined by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tom Carper, D-Del.

The full text of the senators’ brief is available here and here.