Cooley Files Amicus Briefs to Challenge USPS Rollbacks in Advance of Election

Firm seeks to protect voter rights on behalf of the US House of Representatives

Washington, DC – October 30, 2020 – Cooley and the US House of Representatives have successfully supported legal challenges to dramatic US Postal Service rollbacks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a context that has made voting by mail essential for millions of Americans. A Cooley team filed seven amicus briefs on behalf of the US House of Representatives in lawsuits opposing service changes by USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that significantly slowed mail delivery in advance of the November 3 election. Cooley’s briefs supported motions for preliminary injunctions filed by plaintiffs in each case seeking to halt the USPS service rollbacks to help ensure reliable delivery of mail-in ballots. Five preliminary injunctions have since been granted, with the courts siding with arguments advanced by a Cooley team of lawyers, which includes Kathleen Hartnett, Elizabeth Prelogar, Adam Gershenson, Barrett Anderson, Liz Trafton, Zach Sisko and Elias Kim.

Cooley’s amicus briefs – submitted in US District Courts in the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Washington, Montana and Maryland – argued that the right to vote “depends on a properly functioning postal system,” underscoring how the pandemic has forced many voters to mail their ballots to protect their health. The challenged USPS practices include “removing hundreds of collection boxes and high-speed sorting machines, cutting or curtailing overtime for postal workers and prohibiting postal workers from making extra or late trips to complete deliveries.” As argued in Cooley’s briefs, those rollbacks to USPS service have “created dramatic delays in mail delivery” and thus threaten to improperly disenfranchise voters who try to return mail-in ballots.

Courts granted preliminary injunctions, supported by Cooley’s arguments, in five cases:

  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al. v. DeJoy, et al. (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
  • State of Washington et al. v. Trump, et al. (Eastern District of Washington)
  • State of New York et al. v. Trump, et al. (District of DC)
  • NAACP v. USPS, et al. (District of DC)
  • Vote Forward v. DeJoy, et al. (District of DC)

In National Urban League et al. v. DeJoy, et al. (District of Maryland), the court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction in large part because USPS is already subject to the preliminary injunctions in numerous other lawsuits, including the five listed above in which Cooley filed briefs. A settlement resolved the seventh case in which Cooley submitted an amicus brief, Bullock v. USPS, et al. (District of Montana). 

Cooley is committed to ensuring all eligible US voters have an equal opportunity to exercise their right to vote. In August, alongside nonprofits Electronic Frontier Foundation and Protect Democracy, Cooley filed a complaint on behalf of five voter advocacy organizations against President Donald Trump and other executive officials over an executive order purporting to “prevent online censorship.” The lawsuit seeks to safeguard First Amendment rights and ensure voter fairness in an election year.

Additionally, the firm is again partnering with Election Protection, the nation's largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, to ensure all eligible US voters have an equal opportunity to vote in this year’s election. On November 2 and Election Day, Cooley will volunteer to host a remote call center that will support more than 500 volunteers – including Cooley lawyers, professional staff, clients and alumni – to staff Election Protection’s hotline. Volunteers will provide voters with information about how to vote and make sure their vote is counted and document problems are reported by callers at polling sites, such as broken machines, intimidation and poll worker misinformation. Cooley will also once again run Election Protection’s Northern Virginia Field Command Center on Election Day – this time virtually.

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Related Contacts
Kathleen R. Hartnett  Partner San Francisco
Adam Gershenson  Partner Boston
Barrett J. Anderson  Associate San Diego
Zach Sisko  Associate Boston
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