Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Update on the Casket Cartel Case and I Nominate the Institute for Justice for the Nobel Peace Prize

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.   


At 4/13/2011 11:09 AM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

I like that phrase, "economic liberty."

In 1776, who could have imagined that nearly all local governments in 2011 would forbid jitneys, push-cart vendors, and growing your own pot (or brewing your own wine, spirits) for use and sale?

That even cutting your neighbors hair for profit would be illegal?

Usually, there are powerful local business establishments behind these straitjackets on our freedom.

At 4/13/2011 11:46 AM, Blogger Chris Burrows said...

National non-binding standards similar to those used in many industries provide a level playing field for everyone involved. This seems like an industry that could benefit.

At 4/14/2011 4:13 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"National non-binding standards similar to those used in many industries provide a level playing field for everyone involved. This seems like an industry that could benefit."

To what end? What is the point? What possible benefit could there be to national standards for caskets? You either like them, and are willing to pay the price, or you don't. They go in the ground, and that's the end of it - hopefully.


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