Sept. 17 (UPI) -- A Washington-based federal judge on Thursday placed a temporary block on operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service that have been cited for causing a slowdown in mail delivery.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian granted a request from Washington and 13 other states to issue a temporary injunction against the policies implemented under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, saying backlogs in mail "likely will slow down the delivery of ballots" in November's election.
"The states have demonstrated that the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service," Bastian said in his ruling. "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."
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson led the lawsuit, which called for the USPS to halt a policy requiring postal trucks to leave at specified times even if some mail is being loaded, to treat all election mail as First Class mail regardless of postage, and to replace, reassemble or reconnect mail-sorting machines that have been removed
"The Postal Service provides a critical lifeline to our veterans and seniors," he said. "With the national election less than two months away, we are seeking a judicial order protecting this critical government service."
Bastian said that his preliminary injunction would be issued "essentially in the form presented by the states" but it was not immediately clear how long it would remain in effect.
A lawyer representing the USPS, DeJoy and President Donald Trump contended that the Postal Service is prepared to handle the surge in election mail and delays observed in mail delivery over the summer have subsided.
Last month, DeJoy said he would suspend some of the operational changes until after the election "to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail."