Another judge delivers blow to USPS, says changes put election mail 'at risk'

A woman walks past mailboxes seen outside of a US Post Office in Washington, DC on August 17, 2020.

(CNN) -- Another judge has put a court order in place stopping the US Postal Service from making policy changes that would slow down election mail.

"Plaintiffs have also demonstrated that the combination of the reduction of late trips, extra trips and reduced sorting capacity puts the timely delivery of election mail at risk," Judge Emmet Sullivan of the DC District Court wrote on Sunday, in a case brought by a coalition of state governments including New York.

It's the third case in a little over a week where the court has blunted the USPS's changes as the agency is under extra scrutiny now that more Americans are set to vote by mail in November's general election because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Thursday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in many cases what the judges decided were changes he already planned to put in place.

Sullivan ruled that while he didn't want to micromanage USPS, this ruling was in the public's interest, particularly during a pandemic.

"It is clearly in the public interest to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, to ensure safe alternatives to in-person voting, and to require that the USPS comply with the law," Sullivan wrote.

The court order said what the USPS was doing had wide effects.

"While it is clear that Congress did not intend for the courts to micromanage the operations of the USPS, requiring the USPS to comply with the statutory requirement that it obtain an advisory opinion from the PRC and provide for notice and comment prior to implementing 'a change in the nature of postal services which will generally affect service on a nationwide or substantially nationwide basis' is not micro-managing; it is requiring the USPS to act within its statutory authority."

A week ago, a federal judge ruled that the Postal Service must prioritize election mail and reverse some key policy changes imposed by DeJoy, saying that "managerial failures" at the agency undermined the public's faith in mail-in voting.

A judge in Washington state ordered many similar changes on the week before and blasted the Trump administration for what he called a "politically motivated attack" on USPS.

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