Litigation Briefs

April 1, 2003

April 2003

Litigation Briefs

IJ Closes the Lid on Tennessee Casket Case

IJ has another economic liberty victory in the bank!

The State of Tennessee has decided not to appeal the Institute for Justice’s 6th Circuit Court of Appeals victory on behalf of independent casket retailers.  This makes our win in the federal appeals court on behalf of Rev. Nathaniel Craigmiles and the other casket sellers the highest pro-economic liberty decision in court since the New Deal.

The State had been given 60 days to appeal from the date of the 6th Circuit’s unanimous decision upholding a lower court ruling, which found the licensing scheme concocted by the State was unconstitutional.  The Court found that the only difference between caskets sold by the government-enforced cartel and those of independent casket retailers is that the cartel’s caskets were consistently higher in price, and therefore there was no need for independent retailers to take the years of study (at an expense of thousands of dollars), which includes having to embalm 25 bodies, all to sell what amounted to “a box.”

“It was a no-lose situation for those who love the free market,” said Chip Mellor, IJ’s president and general counsel, who litigated the case.  “Either the State appealed and we had a chance to set a national precedent on the issue, or the State didn’t appeal and we had a victory in the bank that we can use as a foundation for future economic liberty victories.”

Michigan Court of Appeals Accepts Appeal To Dismiss Teachers’ Union Attack

The Court of Appeals for the State of Michigan accepted an appeal by the Institute for Justice on behalf of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to consider dismissing a lawsuit filed by the Michigan Education Association against the think tank. The Court—without a request by either party—also ordered the trial court proceedings stayed pending the outcome of the appeal. The MEA filed its lawsuit after the Mackinac Center accurately quoted the MEA’s president when he called a press conference during which he stated, “. . .frankly, I admire what [the Mackinac Center has] done.”

“Michigan courts have repeatedly emphasized that unmeritorious First Amendment cases should be dispensed with as soon as possible,” said Clark Neily, a senior attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice, which represents the Mackinac Center for free in the case. “We’re hopeful the appeals court will vindicate that principle by dismissing the MEA’s baseless attack on the Mackinac Center’s right of free expression.”

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