Constitutional Law

'Casket cartel' rules banning sales by monks are nixed by 5th Circuit


In the latest win for the Institute of Justice in a “rational basis” economic regulation case, a federal appeals court has agreed with a trial judge that the state of Louisiana overreached by preventing Benedictine monks from selling simple wooden caskets because they are not funeral directors.

Finding that “mere economic protection of a particular industry” is not an adequate basis for government regulation, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion (PDF) on Wednesday that affirmed the trial court’s injunction preventing enforcement of Louisiana Board of Funeral Directors rules adopted under the state Embalming and Funeral Directors Act.

“The great deference due state economic regulation does not demand judicial blindness to the history of a challenged rule or the context of its adoption nor does it require courts to accept nonsensical explanations for regulation,” the 5th Circuit writes. “The deference we owe expresses mighty principles of federalism and judicial roles. The principle we protect from the hand of the State today protects an equally vital core principle–-the taking of wealth and handing it to others when it comes not as economic protectionism in service of the public good but as “economic” protection of the rulemakers’ pockets.”

Hat tip: Volokh Conspiracy.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Benedictine Monks Win ‘Casket Cartel’ Case, Have Constitutional Right to Sell Coffins”

ABAJournal.com: “‘Casket Cartel’ Asks 5th Circuit to OK Statute Barring Benedictine Monks’ Cottage Coffin Industry”

ABAJournal.com: “Institute for Justice Fights for Street Vendors Battling Restrictive Laws”

ABAJournal.com: “5th Circuit Appears to Favor Monks Challenging Casket Restrictions, But Punts Issue to La. Supremes”

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