This case arose when the brothers of Saint Joseph Abbey, a century-old Benedictine monastery in Covington, La., began to sell their handmade wooden caskets in late 2007 to support their educational and health care expenses. The board moved to shut down the monks’ 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 and IJ 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.
We won at the trial court in 2011 and at the appellate court earlier this year. And with the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Board’s petition, the 5th Circuit’s ruling will now stand as a vitally important precedent in IJ’s campaign for economic liberty. We will use it nationwide to challenge other irrational licensing schemes that do nothing more than protect industry insiders.