A group of Benedictine monks secured one of the biggest victories for economic liberty in recent memory this week.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the petition of the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors seeking to overturn a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to strike down Louisiana’s law requiring a funeral director’s license to sell a casket, according to the Institute for Justice.
Saint Joseph Abbey, a century-old Benedictine monastery in Covington, La., hatched a plan to make and sell caskets in 2007 to support the monks’ educational and healthcare expenses. But before the monks sold a single casket, the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors informed them of a ridiculous state law allowing only licensed funeral directors to sell “funeral merchandise.”
The law actually required people who sold boxes to store dead folks to have comprehensive knowledge of embalming and running a funeral business.
The Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors shepherded the outlandish law through the state legislature knowing it would give the funeral industry a monopoly on casket sales, killing competition and allowing them to charge outrageous prices.
With representation from a team of attorneys from the Institute for Justice, the Saint Joseph Abbey monks won a series of court battles. In March, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Louisiana law requiring a funeral director’s license to sell a casket, affirming “the constitutional right to earn an honest living without unreasonable government interference.”
After the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the law, declaring it an illegal state-enforced industry monopoly, the creeps at the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors attempted to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Fortunately, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, allowing the earlier court ruling to stand.
Finally, after a five-year fight, the monks at Saint Joseph Abbey are finally able to make and sell their hand-crafted coffins.