The Institute for Justice writes:
Saint Joseph Abbey, et al. v. Castille, et al.
Challenging Louisiana's Casket Cartel
Can the government restrict economic liberty just to enrich a group of politically favored insiders?
That’s the question the Institute for Justice and its client, Saint Joseph Abbey of St. Benedict, La., have taken to federal court in challenging the constitutionality of Louisiana’s outrageous requirement that the monks of the Abbey must be licensed as funeral directors and convert their monastery into a licensed funeral home in order to sell their handmade wooden casket.
Under Louisiana law, it is a crime for anyone but a licensed funeral director to sell “funeral merchandise,” which includes caskets. To sell caskets legally, the monks would have to abandon their calling for one full year to apprentice at a licensed funeral home, learn unnecessary skills and take a funeral industry test. They would also have to convert their monastery into a “funeral establishment” by, among other things, installing equipment for embalming human remains.
On August 12, 2010, the Institute for Justice teamed up with the monks of Saint Joseph Abbey to file a federal constitutional lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to vindicate their right to earn an honest living. In a time of 10 percent unemployment and widespread economic pessimism, this case raises one of today’s most important constitutional questions: May the government restrict economic liberty just to enrich a group of politically favored insiders such as licensed funeral directors?
One of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans is the right to earn an honest living in the occupation of our choice without arbitrary government interference. Louisiana’s casket licensing law violates that right.
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