Jones Act Lawsuit Irks Federal Government

by Pearl Hahn 

Federal judge David Ezra chose to toss a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Jones Act, an 89-year-old law that restricts interstate shipping to Hawaii to only U.S.-built and U.S.-flagged ships. Earlier this fall, Honolulu attorneys John Carroll and Christopher Dias filed the suit against the U.S. government on the basis that the Jones Act infringes upon the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

Ezra said Monday that Carroll’s plaintiffs appear to lack standing to sue. Carroll contends the law is harmful to Hawaii because it results in inflated prices for goods shipped into the state to such an extent that it is an unlawful restraint on trade and interstate commerce. He also claims the Act has caused some businesses to fold.

Big Island small business owner Jim O’Keefe is one of those complainants. Upon closing his bakery, the O’Keefe & Sons Break Bakers, he left fifty people unemployed and several businesses and families searching for other places to purchase baked goods. He claims that due to the Jones Act, he ended up paying more for shipping flour than for the flour itself.

Carroll, who is also in the running for the Republican nomination for governor, says he intends to address Ezra’s comments and pursue overturning the Jones Act.

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