Captain sues Coast Guard for denying license to pilot ships on Great Lakes

Matthew Hight

For the second time, a man who has piloted large cargo ships around the globe is in court pursuing his right to run vessels through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes.

He’d already made that trip some 200 times without incident.

The first fight for Matthew Hight was several years ago over the fact that the Coast Guard had denied his license based on the recommendation of the St. Lawrence Seaway Pilots’ Association, a private, for-profit company.

WND reported at the time that the Institute for Justice complained the pilots association “concocted” reasons to reject Hight because its officials apparently didn’t like him.

A video describing the problem them:

It seems Hight had raised questions about the financial records of the pilots group.

As a result the IJ said a court ruled that the Coast Guard had to give Hight a required test, and he passed it.

“Captain Hight, represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), has filed a second federal lawsuit demanding that the Coast Guard issue a decision on his application for registration,” the legal team explained.

“Captain Hight has earned the right to practice his trade, and there is no legitimate reason for the Coast Guard to simply sit on his application, month after month,” said IJ Attorney Jeff Redfern. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

“Captain Hight’s first lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the Coast Guard’s delegation of its power to a private association, and it also argued that the Coast Guard’s refusal to let Captain Hight take its exam violated the Coast Guard’s own regulations,” the IJ said. “D.C. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ordered the Coast Guard to let Captain Hight take the test, and Captain Hight took the exam on June 29, 2021. The Captain passed the test, but—apart from sending a one-line letter congratulating him for his passing score—the Coast Guard has totally failed to take any further action to register him as a pilot even after repeated requests by Hight’s counsel.”

The new case claims the Coast Guard is violating the Administrative Procedure Act with its unreasonable delay in deciding whether to grant Captain Hight his registration.

“I never wanted to sue the Coast Guard, but it is just not right that someone who is fully trained and who passed the test should not be allowed to pilot ships,” Hight said in a statement released by the IJ. “I worked for years to achieve the career goal of piloting the Great Lakes. I intend to keep fighting both for myself and so that others can also work toward the same goal and not end up blocked by a self-interested club that benefits from keeping good pilots on the sidelines.”

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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