Updated: Sep 19, 2020 10:42 AM
Federal judge Michael W. Mosby blocked the U.S. Postal Service from implementing controversial changes to mail-forwarding and express delivery rates Tuesday, another blow to one of President Donald Trump’s pet projects.
In a 57-page decision, Mosby said the changes would deprive out-of-towners of benefits and infringe on their right to free speech, particularly the ability to block, return or reject an email for a guaranteed postage rate.
“The risk of voter disenfranchisement resulting from the elimination of express forward rates is substantial and further demonstrates that the Federal government is engaged in an exercise of power with respect to the mail which is so undemocratic that the American people’s freedoms and interests must ultimately prevail,” Mosby wrote.
The proposed rules would also reduce service for take-out and weekend deliveries and slow and delay delivery of mail to remote locations.
The U.S. Postal Service, which lost $5.6 billion last year, filed the proposed rate revisions with the Postal Regulatory Commission in 2016. The changes, which were to take effect on Sept. 1, have sparked complaints from thousands of businesses that rely on the postal service. Those businesses say the rates would result in fewer benefits, increased costs and less opportunity for them to compete.
Though the Postal Service operates its own mail processing centers and provides printing services and information technology service, such as email access and other forms of Web mail, it still relies on its private, for-profit post office to deliver letters.
The changes would result in an inflationary impact of $6 billion on mail volume over five years, according to the Postal Service, causing the agency to lose $11 billion.
The agency’s rate proposal would require consumers to pay a third less per piece of mail each year in order to offset the adjustment in a fixed, hard-to-read envelope that’s used more frequently than other types of letter mail.
The agency argued that it wanted to preserve a level of competitive status and quality of service for its customers.
The White House has been critical of the agency’s business practices and has taken aim at the postal service over its billing practices and recent strategic missteps. During the presidential campaign, Trump floated a proposal to ban the agency from receiving any government aid and to suspend some funding to the service in return for delivery of the president’s personal email address.
The action against the proposed rate changes comes as one of Trump’s top priorities continues to be reforming the Postal Service and growing the agency’s own operations.