Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Public Citizen filed a preliminary injunction motion on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in an ongoing lawsuit against the United States Postal Service (USPS). The preliminary injunction motion seeks to suspend service changes that have disrupted mail delivery. These changes have resulted in delayed delivery of prescription medications and other important mail in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they raise concerns about the timely delivery of ballot applications and ballots in the run up to the November 2020 election.
LDF and Public Citizen filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Aug. 20. The lawsuit argues that the recent changes by USPS, known as an operational “pivot,” were implemented in violation of federal law. Thus far, Postmaster Louis DeJoy has rejected calls to reverse these changes. The NAACP, the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights grassroots organization, and its members rely on the timely delivery of the mail for a variety of important functions, including mail-in voting.
“Our preliminary injunction motion seeks to suspend service changes made by the USPS that are causing significant mail delays and profoundly impact the NAACP and its members,” said Sam Spital, LDF’s Director of Litigation. “For example, these delays have resulted in belated delivery of essential prescription medications to veterans. Moreover, this service pivot has forced the NAACP to re-allocate critical resources to counteracting the USPS’ actions, particularly when it comes to promoting Black voter turnout.”
Spital continued, “These service changes must be immediately suspended so that they do not cause further harm to the NAACP, its members, and all Americans. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, access to timely, reliable mail service is of utmost importance — and Americans must be able to send and receive important mail, including ballots and ballot applications, with confidence.”
“We must reverse the USPS’ significant and detrimental actions, swiftly and efficiently,” said Janette Louard, Interim General Counsel at the NAACP. “As we continue to reel from the stifling effects of COVID-19, the post office has a deeply-ingrained obligation to ensure the nation’s mail is delivered without obstruction or delay. The NAACP and the American people depend on the mail service to be punctual and productive in their charge to safeguard one of our most historic communication systems.”
“Within weeks of Postmaster DeJoy starting work at the Postal Service, and apparently without undertaking an analysis of the likely impact, DeJoy ordered changes that have slowed mail delivery throughout the country. To make these changes without considering their effect on people across the country who depend on mail for delivery of medications, checks, ballots, and other important mail was not only incompetent, but unlawful,” explained Allison Zieve, Director of Public Citizen Litigation Group.
The lawsuit contends that the USPS acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in implementing these service changes without considering the impact they would have on timely and reliable mail delivery, and by failing to seek public comment and an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission — as required by law — before doing so.
The lawsuit requests that the court enjoins the USPS’ unauthorized changes in order to maintain election integrity, as well as to guarantee that all Americans have reliable mail service access — for mail-in ballots, medications, and more — during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Because the NAACP and its members are already enduring significant harms from these changes, our preliminary injunction motion requests that they be immediately suspended.
Read a copy of our preliminary injunction motion here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Public Citizen Litigation Group is the litigating arm of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. Public Citizen defends democracy, resists corporate power, and works to ensure that government works for the people. Through its Litigation Group, Public Citizen litigates to protect the rights of consumers to access the courts and to stop rollbacks of important consumer, worker, and environmental protections. Follow Public Citizen on Twitter.
Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP.