Last August, I reported on the monks from Saint Joseph Abbey, who are trying to get Louisiana’s casket licensing law overturned with legal help from the Institute for Justice. Under Louisiana law, it is a crime for anyone but a licensed funeral director to sell “funeral merchandise,” which includes caskets. Here's an update from yesterday's Times Picayune:
"Monks at St. Joseph Abbey can sue for the right to sell handcrafted caskets to the public without a license from the Louisiana Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, a federal judge in New Orleans has decided. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval's ruling set the stage for a June 6 trial, during which lawyers representing the Abbey will attempt to prove that restricting casket sales to state-licensed funeral directors amounts to unconstitutional economic protectionism.
"This ruling is a vindication of what we have been saying all along: Economic liberty is for everyone, including the monks of the Abbey," Abbot Justin Brown said in a statement issued by the Virginia-based Institute of Justice, who is arguing on behalf of the Abbey.
St. Joseph Abbey opened a woodshop
on All Saints Day 2007 to sell handcrafted cypress funeral boxes to anyone interested for either $1,500 or $2,000, which is cheaper than caskets from typical funeral homes. They hoped the sales would pay for the medical and educational needs of 36 Benedictine monks. But the board regulating Louisiana's embalmers and funeral directors fired a cease-and-desist letter to the Abbey before it sold a single casket, citing a state statute that carried thousands of dollars in fines and up to 180 days' imprisonment for anyone selling funeral boxes without first paying the expensive fees and meeting the exhaustive requirements necessary to get a license from them."
MP: God Bless the Institute for Justice, they deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for their humanitarian work defending small businesses and entrepreneurs against economic protectionism, empowering individuals to earn an honest living, and promoting economic and social justice.