Stories Chosen For You
More than a year and a half into President Joe Biden's first term, Louis DeJoy—a megadonor to former President Donald Trump and a villain in the eyes of progressives and many Democratic lawmakers—is still running the U.S. Postal Service.
DeJoy's staying power in the face of widespread outrage over his sabotage of postal operations and his ethics scandals, one of which spurred an FBI probe, can largely be attributed to the loyalty of the USPS Board of Governors, a majority of which has remained supportive of the postmaster general amid repeated calls for his ouster over the past two years.
While Biden lacks the authority to fire DeJoy directly, he does have the ability to alter the composition of the postal board, which can replace the postmaster general with a simple-majority vote.
As The American Prospect's David Dayen explained Wednesday, the president may soon have an opportunity to pave the way for DeJoy's removal by nominating two DeJoy opponents to postal governor spots that will be open in December, when the terms of Republican William Zollars and Democrat Donald Lee Moak—allies of the postmaster general—expire.
"Moak's presence has been one reason why DeJoy has continued in his position, despite Biden having appointed a majority of the board and all of its other Democrats," Dayen noted. "Roman Martinez, a Republican, serves as board chair, despite the fact that Republicans only hold four of the board's nine slots."
"The Postal Service Board of Governors has a requirement that only a bare majority of its members, in this case five out of nine, be affiliated with the president's own party," Dayen continued. "However, board member Amber McReynolds, whom Biden appointed in 2021, is a registered independent. Therefore, it's technically possible for Biden to replace Moak and Zollars with Democrats who align with the vast majority of the Democratic base in opposing DeJoy. That would ensure enough votes to fire DeJoy."
Earlier this month, a coalition of more than 80 advocacy organizations led by Take on Wall Street sent a letter pushing Biden to nominate replacements for Moak and Zollars who are "wholly committed to the task of protecting and expanding our Postal Service."
The 83 groups also expressed alarm over DeJoy's stated plan to "raise postage prices at 'uncomfortable rates' around the country" as part of his decadelong policy vision, which has drawn pushback from postal unions, lawmakers, and Democratic members of the USPS board.
"Additionally, numerous post office locations are set to be shuttered under his 10-year restructuring plan, potentially impacting thousands of employees during a time of economic crisis," the groups wrote. "After DeJoy's numerous failings at the helm, it is imperative that we have a strong, full, and reform-oriented Postal Board of Governors in place to hold him accountable to the true mission and public service goals of the USPS."
"This is one of the last opportunities your administration has to appoint governors to the postal board," they added.
The letter, dated August 1, was sent days after DeJoy announced his goal of slashing 50,000 positions from the Postal Service in the coming years, an effort that the 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union (APWU) condemned and vowed to fight.
"If it's management's intent to weaken our union, attack our pay and conditions, or eliminate family-sustaining union postal jobs, the [postmaster general] will get a strong fight from the APWU," Mark Dimondstein, the union's president, told Government Executive last week.
"We will oppose future job reductions that affect the lives of the postal workers we represent," Dimondstein added. "Rest assured that any such management actions will be met with [the] unbridled opposition of the APWU."
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Stop WOKE Act suffered a two-punch blow Thursday as a federal judge blocked parts of the controversial law and a coalition of civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit against what they are calling "racially motivated censorship."
"Under our constitutional scheme, the remedy for repugnant speech is more speech, not enforced silence."
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, issued a preliminary injunction against portions of the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, also called the Individual Freedom Act, saying it violates First Amendment free speech protections and the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause.
The Stop WOKE Act—sometimes also referred to as the Individual Freedom Act and the "white discomfort law"—prohibits classroom discussions or corporate training that make students or workers feel uneasy about their race. The legislation is widely viewed by progressives as part of the GOP-led war on critical race theory, a graduate-level academic framework for understanding systemic racism in the United States.
"Florida's legislators may well find plaintiffs' speech repugnant. But under our constitutional scheme, the remedy for repugnant speech is more speech, not enforced silence," wrote Walker.
"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," the judge added. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."
Walker's ruling forayed into pop culture Zeitgeist:
In the popular television series "Stranger Things," the "upside down" describes a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world... Recently, Florida has seemed like a First Amendment "upside down." Normally, the First Amendment bars the state from burdening speech, while private actors may burden speech freely. But in Florida, the First Amendment apparently bars private actors from burdening speech, while the state may burden speech freely... Now, like the heroine in "Stranger Things," this court is once again asked to pull Florida back from the "upside down."
Rights groups hailed the decision, with Protect Democracy tweeting that "the Stop WOKE Act is a speech code that takes a page from the authoritarian playbook" and "seeks to censor ideas that challenge government officials' preferred narrative, muzzle independent institutions, and direct outrage toward disfavored groups."
Also on Thursday, the ACLU, ACLU of Florida, Legal Defense Fund, and the law firm Ballard Spahr filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of Florida professors, alleging the Stop WOKE Act violates the First and 14th amendments.
The suit calls the law "racially motivated censorship that the Florida Legislature enacted, in significant part, to stifle widespread demands to discuss, study, and address systemic inequalities, following the nationwide protests that provoked discussions about race and racism in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd."
"Not only does the law prohibit instructors from teaching the Legislature's disfavored viewpoints in the manner dictated by their disciplines, but its vague terms generate uncertainty about when and how the law will apply, thus creating an even greater chilling effect on academic expression," the complaint states.
"The Stop WOKE Act is a speech code that takes a page from the authoritarian playbook."
The ACLU tweeted that "the First Amendment protects the right to learn for educators and students. The Stop WOKE Act deprives classrooms of important learning tools and conversations to challenge racism and sexism and discriminates against Black educators and students."
"We have a right to teach and learn free from state censorship and discrimination," the group added.
Thursday's ruling and lawsuit come two weeks after DeSantis suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren after he vowed not to prosecute people who violate Florida's 15-week abortion ban or restrictions on gender-affirming healthcare.
In announcing the suspension—which Warren challenged in federal court on Wednesday as a violation of his First Amendment rights—DeSantis referred to the state attorney as "woke."
In a Wednesday appearance on CNN, Warren explained that "we're fighting back to make sure that even though Ron DeSantis is governor, the First Amendment still has meaning. The Florida Constitution has meaning and elections still have meaning."
DeSantis has been called a hypocrite for touting Florida as a haven for freedom while signing laws that restrict reproductive, educational, and other liberties, including the right to protest.
Trump Org could be ‘extinguished’ and he could lose liability protections for his properties: tax expert
Donald Trump may lose his Trump Organization empire following the disposition of a legal case in Manhattan.
Longtime Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty on Thursday to 15 charges stemming from a tax avoidance scheme at the former president's company.
Weisselberg attorney Nicholas Gravante Jr. told The New York Times, "rather than risk the possibility of 15 years in prison, he has agreed to serve 100 days."
CNN's Erin Burnett interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston about Weisselberg agreeing to testify in the Trump Organization trial. Johnston, who has taught taxes at Syracuse Law, is one of the few journalists who has obtained parts of Trump's tax returns.
"What happens to the Trump Organization, to the real estate company here, when this is all said and done?" Burnett asked.
"Well, it's possible in this case or the Letitia James civil case, that the Trump Organization at the top will be extinguished," Johnston replied.
"Donald can still own his properties, but own them directly and the liability shield from having a corporation goes away," he explained. "So something horrible happens, his liability personally goes way up. This is bad news for him."
"Now that Weisselberg has confessed that he's a thief, a felon, a serial felon, there may be difficulty with banks and trying to get any new financing," Johnston noted.
David Cay Johnston www.youtube.com