Judge temporarily blocks U.S. Postal Service changes, citing mail slowdown
By Karen Freifeld
Sept 17 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the United States Postal Service from making operational changes that states say threaten the timely delivery of election mail.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, said he would issue a nationwide preliminary injunction sought by 14 states in a case brought against U.S. President Donald Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and the U.S. Postal Service over July changes to the service.
"The states have demonstrated that the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the postal service," the judge said in a hearing by telephone.
"They have also demonstrated that this attack on the postal service is likely to irreparably harm the states' ability to administer the 2020 general election."
The 14 states, led by Washington, had asked the court to immediately halt requirements that compelled postal trucks to leave at certain times, regardless of whether mail has yet to be loaded.
They also asked that all election mail be treated as first-class mail, regardless of the paid postage; and that sorting machines that had been removed and are needed to ensure the timely delivery of election mail be replaced; and for the postal service to abide by Postmaster General DeJoy's commitment to suspend the recent changes that have affected mail until after the election.
The judge said the preliminary injunction would essentially be issued as the states requested, and he said he would issue a written order, likely later on Thursday.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Chris Reese and Aurora Ellis)
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