Justice Done in Louisiana! Whuda Thunk?



In a shockingly unusual turn of events, a federal court in Louisiana has reached a just decision. This man-bites-dog decision involves my neighbors, the Benedictine brothers of St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary, about whose difficulties I wrote recently. The Louisiana funeral directors’ cartel was attempting to shut down the monks’ sale of the simple wooden caskets they make at the abbey to support themselves and their activities.

The court ruled:

Before the Court was the issue of whether it is unconstitutional to require those persons who intend solely to manufacture and sell caskets be subject to the licensing requirements for funeral directors and funeral establishments. After considering all testimony and evidence presented at trial and the relevant law, the Court finds that this requirement is in contravention of the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

There is no rational basis for the State of Louisiana to require persons who seek to enter into the retailing of caskets to undergo the training and expense necessary to comply with these rules. Simply put there is nothing in the licensing procedures that bestows any benefit to the public in the context of the retail sale of caskets. It appears that the sole reason for these laws is the economic protection of the funeral industry which reason the Court has previously found not to be a valid government interest standing alone to provide a constitutionally valid reason for these provisions.

It is a rare and wondrous event when a U.S. court reaches a just decision. Celebration is in order.

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