Federal court to try monks’ casket case

New Orleans City Business
Monday, April 11, 2011

A federal court will decide whether a group of North Shore monks can make and sell caskets without a state license.

The Benedictine order at St. Joseph Abbey of Covington is challenging whether the Louisiana Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors can prevent them from doing business. The case will head to trial June 6 after U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval today denied the board’s motion to dismiss the case. The libertarian Institute for Justice (ISJ) challenged the state licensing law in August on behalf of the monks.

“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 press release.

The monks and the ISJ assert that the state licensing requirement is solely to keep competition down in the lucrative casket sales business. Members of the board have countered that they are merely trying
to uphold the law and ensure the quality of their industry.

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