Monks these days are so ambitious. No longer content just to pray and swish about the abbey in long robes, some have branched out into casket sales. And according to the 5th Circuit, Louisiana doesn’t have the right to stop them.

After Hurricane Katrina, 38 Benedictine monks of St. Joseph Abbey in St. Benedict, La., tried to supplement their income by selling plain wooden caskets. However, Louisiana law states that only state-licensed funeral directors at state-licensed funeral homes can sell caskets. The requirements for getting a license are very specific—you have to have embalming facilities and a full-time funeral director, among other things.

The monks sued the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, and the 5th Circuit on Wednesday found that the state law only existed to protect funeral homes from competition, and denied the monks equal protection and due process.

“That Louisiana does not even require a casket for burial, does not impose requirements for their construction or design, does not require a casket to be sealed before burial, and does not require funeral directors to have any special expertise in caskets leads us to conclude that no rational relationship exists between public health and safety and limiting intrastate sales of caskets to funeral establishments,” the court wrote.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.


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