Appellate Court Issues Landmark Ruling in Favor of Louisiana Monks

Are the Monks of Saint Joseph Abbey Headed to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Shira Rawlinson
Institute for Justice

Arlington, Va.—Today, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous final decision in favor of the casket-making monks of Saint Joseph Abbey, setting up what could become a historic clash at the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Court of Appeals squarely rejected Louisiana’s argument that it was constitutional to enact a law forbidding anyone but a government-licensed funeral director from selling caskets, especially if the only purpose of the law is to make funeral directors wealthier by limiting competition.

With today’s decision, there is now a decisive disagreement among the federal courts of appeal on one of the most important unresolved questions in constitutional law:  Does the U.S. Constitution allow the government to pass economic regulations with no public benefit solely to enrich special interests at the expense of would-be competitors and consumers?  The Supreme Court’s primary duty is to resolve such disagreements.  Louisiana has 90 days to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

This case arose when the brothers of Saint Joseph Abbey, a century-old Benedictine monastery in Covington, La., began to sell their handmade caskets in late 2007 to support the monks educational and health-care expenses.  The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors moved to shut down the fledgling business before it sold even one casket because it was a crime in Louisiana for anyone but a government-licensed funeral director to sell caskets to the public.  The monks brought suit in federal court on the ground that this arbitrary restriction served no legitimate public purpose and existed only to funnel money to the funeral-director cartel…

The article continues, with a link to the court’s decision, at Institute for Justice.


H/T Judge Andrew Napolitano: “Great news, and a great victory for freedom.”


Comments are closed.