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Case Name New York v. Trump PR-DC-0018
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-02340 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Case Summary
Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General of the United States, announced an “operational pivot” within the U.S. Postal Service shortly after his tenure began on May 6, 2020. Postal Policy Changes began on June 17, 2020, when the USPS announced the removal of 671 high-speed mail sorting machines ... read more >
Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General of the United States, announced an “operational pivot” within the U.S. Postal Service shortly after his tenure began on May 6, 2020. Postal Policy Changes began on June 17, 2020, when the USPS announced the removal of 671 high-speed mail sorting machines nationwide, a reduction of approximately 10%. A second announcement on July 10, 2020 prohibited “late trips” and “extra trips,” meaning that postal drivers were barred from departing for delivery points after the prescribed time or for non-scheduled delivery trips. In addition to these nation-wide changes, USPS launched the Expedited to Street/Afternoon Sortation initiative in 400 localities on July 25, 2020. The pilot program proscribed mail carriers in select localities from sorting mail in the morning. Instead, carriers were required to depart earlier for deliveries, leaving mail that arrived overnight to be sorted in the afternoon and delivered the following day. According to USPS records, on-time delivery of First-Class Mail started to decline in late June 2020. This trend would continue as the changes took effect.

On or around July 29, 2020, the USPS General Counsel issued a warning and recommendation via letter to 46 states and the District of Columbia: unless states paid First-Class postage for election mail, there was a risk that voters would not receive their ballots in time to return them by mail. This was a change to USPS policy, which historically treated election mail and political mail as marketing mail on an expedited First-Class basis.

On August 18, 2020, Mr. DeJoy suspended operational initiatives in light of the approaching election and the ongoing pandemic, specifying that Post Office retail hours would not change, mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes would not be moved, mail processing facilities will not be closed, and overtime will be approved as needed. Aside from the mail processing equipment, all other Postal Policy Changes remained in place. On August 21, Louis DeJoy testified at the Senate Homeland Security Government Affairs Committee Hearing, stating that the “extra trips” policy would remain and the removed high-speed mail sorting machines would not be returned. Although he stated that states would not need to pay First-Class postage for election mail during the Senate Committee Hearing, he reaffirmed the USPS General Counsel recommendation just three days later. On August 24, 2020, Mr. DeJoy testified before the House Committee that states and election boards should follow the recommendation of the USPS General Counsel to pay First Class postage to ensure ballots are delivered on time.

The following day, August 25, the States of New York, Hawaii, and New Jersey; the City of New York; and the City and County of San Francisco filed this lawsuit against Defendants Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States; Louis DeJoy, in his official capacity as Postmaster General of the United States; and the United States Postal Services. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and assigned to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. The Plaintiffs alleged that USPS Postal Policy Changes, announced and implemented in June and July 2020, violated both federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

Specifically, the Plaintiffs alleged that the U.S. Postal Service acted beyond the agency’s authority under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) by failing to seek an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission at a reasonable time prior to implementing the Postal Policy Changes in June and July 2020. 39 U.S.C. §1661. In addition, Plaintiffs alleged that the U.S. Postal Service acted beyond the agency’s authority under the Postal Reorganization Act (PRA) by ignoring the requirement to give the highest consideration to the convenience and efficiency of processing, transporting, and delivering important letter mail. 39 U.S.C. §101. The complaint also alleged that the agency acted outside of its legal authority under the PRA by eliminating access to postal services to certain populations, failing to meet the requirement that the U.S. Postal Service provide ready access to postal services to the entire population of the United States. 39 U.S.C. §403.

Furthermore, the State Plaintiffs alleged that government Defendants’ actions will undermine the State’s constitutionally delegated role to regulate congressional elections in violation of the Elections Clause of the Constitution. U.S. Const. art. I, § 4, cl. 1. The power to regulate the procedural mechanisms for congressional elections is left to the States, who exercised that power by establishing mail-in voting procedures to ensure safe and secure voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The President has voiced his opposition to provide additional resources to the U.S. Postal Service. He consistently expressed his opposition to mail-in voting. The State Plaintiffs alleged that this was done with the intent to impair the delivery of mailed ballots.
On September 2, 2020, the Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction regarding their Postal Accountability and Enhancement claim. On September 5, 2020, the court decided not to consolidate the present lawsuit with Richardson v. Trump; NAACP v. U.S. Postal Service; or Vote Forward v. DeJoy. On this same day, the County of Santa Clara, the City of Columbus, and thirty local and tribal governments filed an Amicus Brief in support of the Plaintiffs. Two additional Amicus Briefs in support of the Plaintiffs followed on September 9, 2020 and September 22, 2020 from fourteen Democratic Senators and the United States House of Representatives.

On September 27, 2020, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan granted the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction due to the U.S. Postal Service’s failure to request an advisory opinion from the PRC before abruptly adopting policies that have nationwide impacts on postal services. 2020 WL 5763775. This case is ongoing.

Elayna Napoli - 09/28/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Federalism (including 10th Amendment)
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
State Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Mandamus, 28 U.S.C. § 1361
Defendant(s) Donald J. Trump. President
Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General
U.S. Postal Service
Plaintiff Description States of New York, Hawaii, and New Jersey; the City of New York; and the City and County of San Francisco
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 08/25/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:20-cv-02340-EGS (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0018-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PR-DC-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Proposed] Amici Curiae Brief of the County of Santa Clara, the City of Columbus, and Thirty Local and Tribal Governments [ECF# 22]
PR-DC-0018-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Members of Congress as Amici Curiae in Support of Plaintiffs [ECF# 36]
PR-DC-0018-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of the U.S. House of Representatives as Amicus Curiae in Support of the Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 48]
PR-DC-0018-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 51] (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0018-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 52] (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0018-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Sullivan, Emmet G. (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0018-0005 | PR-DC-0018-0006 | PR-DC-0018-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bloom, Aaron M (New York) show/hide docs
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Bronstein, Estelle (New Jersey) show/hide docs
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Colangelo, Matthew (New York) show/hide docs
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Connors, Clare E. (Hawaii) show/hide docs
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Fajana, Morenike (New York) show/hide docs
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Goldstein, Elena Stacy (New York) show/hide docs
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Grewal, Gurbir S. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
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Herrera, Dennis J. (California) show/hide docs
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James, Letitia (New York) show/hide docs
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Jenerette, Tonya (New York) show/hide docs
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Johnson, James E. (New York) show/hide docs
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McKenzie, Lindsay (New York) show/hide docs
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Nogueira, Daniela (New York) show/hide docs
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Pepe, Joseph (New York) show/hide docs
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Saxena, Mayur P (New Jersey) show/hide docs
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Sheehan, Tim (New Jersey) show/hide docs
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Tanigawa, Lori N (Hawaii) show/hide docs
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Yeh, Kevin (California) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Borson, Joseph Evan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Cholera, Kuntal (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Other Lawyers Alvarado, Rafael E Jr. (California) show/hide docs
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Anderson, Barrett J (California) show/hide docs
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Brown, Farimah Faiz (California) show/hide docs
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Columbus , Eric R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Condotti, Anthony P (California) show/hide docs
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Doseck, Barbara J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
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Feuer, Michael Nelson (California) show/hide docs
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Flessner, Mark A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Friedland, Zoe E (California) show/hide docs
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Garth, Andrew W (Ohio) show/hide docs
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Gershenson, Adam S (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Girard, Leslie J (California) show/hide docs
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Glowa, Nancy E. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Gong, LiJia (California) show/hide docs
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Gorod, Brianne J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Grogg, Adam Anderson (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Haas, Michael (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
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Hanna-Weir, Mary Elizabeth (California) show/hide docs
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Hansen, Greta Suzanne (California) show/hide docs
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Hartnett, Kathleen R (California) show/hide docs
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Hickson, Nina R. (Georgia) show/hide docs
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Hilton, Yvonne (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Holmes, Peter S. (Washington) show/hide docs
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Jenkins, Michael (California) show/hide docs
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Kim, Elias S (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Klein, Zachary M (Ohio) show/hide docs
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Letter, Douglas (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Lewis, Ronald C. (Texas) show/hide docs
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LoPresti, Tony (California) show/hide docs
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Luk, Arthur (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Miller, Jonathan B (California) show/hide docs
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Miller, Lauren Elizabeth (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Morgan, Anne L. (Texas) show/hide docs
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O'Flaherty, Eugene (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Olson, Lyndsey M (Minnesota) show/hide docs
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Parker, Barbara J (California) show/hide docs
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Poffenbarger, Maggie (California) show/hide docs
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Pol, Rodney Jr. (Indiana) show/hide docs
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Pratt, Marcel S. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Prelogar, Elizabeth B (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Reeve, Tracy (Oregon) show/hide docs
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Ryan, Vince (Texas) show/hide docs
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Scheller, Jessica Megan (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Schwartz, Jonathan B (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Shen, Yibin (California) show/hide docs
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Sisko, Zachary (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Spiegel, Julia Blau (California) show/hide docs
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Tatelman, Todd B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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TonNu, Sophia (California) show/hide docs
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Trafton, Liz A (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Trice, Laura Susan (California) show/hide docs
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Washington, Brian E. (California) show/hide docs
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Wheeler, Angela N. (Michigan) show/hide docs
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Wickham, Mary C. (California) show/hide docs
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Williams, James R. (California) show/hide docs
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Wright, Francis X. Jr. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Wydra, Elizabeth B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Zolle, Dayna J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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