Federal Court Sides with Louisiana Monks who Sell Caskets
Monks in Louisiana have won another legal victory in their battle with the state over whether they can sell handcrafted caskets.
The 37 Benedictine monks of Saint Joseph Abbey in Covington started selling caskets several years ago to help support themselves. Their work was interrupted when the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, which regulates the funeral industry, discovered what was happening and threatened the monks with fines and criminal charges.
Louisiana law requires anyone working in the funeral business to be certified, to which the monks objected. The monastery filed a lawsuit challenging the law, and the monks won their first trial after a federal judge declared the statute unconstitutional. The case then shifted to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel also sided with the monks.
But the appellate justices did not make a ruling regarding the law. Instead, they asked the state Supreme Court to decide if the board has legal authority to regulate all casket sales in Louisiana.
If the case winds up back before the Fifth Circuit, it would appear the monks would prevail again, according to The Washington Post.
The monks have continued to build caskets while the case has worked its way through the courts, selling an average of 20 per month at $1,500 to $2,000 each. Made of cypress and considered biodegradable, the caskets come in two styles, traditional and monastic.
To Learn More:
Louisiana’s Casket-Making Monks Declare Victory with Appeals Court Ruling (by Robert Barnes, Washington Post)
Monks Fight Louisiana Funeral Industry over Right to Build Coffins (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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