A federal judge on Thursday (July 21) said a state law that limits the sale of caskets to licensed funeral directors and establishments is unconstitutional.
The ruling came in a case brought by the monks at St. Joseph Abbey in Covington, La., who alleged the law amounted to unconstitutional economic protectionism for the funeral industry.
The abbey opened a woodshop in 2007 to sell handcrafted cypress caskets for $1,500 to $2,000, which is cheaper than some caskets from a typical funeral home. The abbey hoped the sales would finance medical and educational needs for more than 30 monks. The state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors issued a cease-and-desist letter before the abbey could sell a single casket. The abbey defied those demands and began selling the caskets anyway.