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Monks Allowed To Undercut Undertakers on Caskets Post-Hurricane Katrina

Fifth Circuit strikes down 'irrational' Louisiana sales ban.

Benedictine monks seeking to support themselves post-Hurricane Katrina have won a second legal victory as they fight Louisiana funeral homes for the right to make and sell handmade caskets at prices that undercut the undertakers.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week in St. Joseph Abbey v. Castille that the Louisiana Board of Funeral Directors's ban on unlicensed casket sales is unconstitutional because it has "no rational basis." The court concluded "the great deference due state economic regulation ... does [not] require courts to accept nonsensical explanations for regulation," noted Religion Clause.

The Fifth Circuit had previously ordered the case be sent to the state's Supreme Court.

The decision upholds a previous federal district court ruling, which concluded "the provisions simply protect a well-organized industry that seeks to maintain a strict hold on this business."

However, the Times-Picayunenoted that "the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar law limiting casket sales in Oklahoma in 2004. The divided opinion now leaves an opening for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh-in, if the Louisiana board decides to appeal, lawyers said."

CT has regularly reported on death and dying, including what the funeral industry doesn't want you to know, whether it is biblical for Christians to be cremated, and how the church can help people die well.

Related Topics:Church and State
Posted:March 21, 2013 at 10:55AM
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