ON-Lion Letter
In October, the Benedictine monks of Saint Joseph Abbey in Louisiana won the final battle of their five-year confrontation with the State of Louisiana when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the petition of the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors seeking to overturn the brothers' landmark constitutional victory.  In March, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Louisiana's law requiring a funeral-director's license to sell a casket, affirming the constitutional right to earn an honest living without unreasonable government interference.

This case arose when the brothers of Saint Joseph Abbey, a century-old Benedictine monastery in Covington, La., began to sell their handmade caskets in late 2007 to support the monks' educational and health-care expenses.  The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors moved to shut down the fledgling business before it sold even one casket because it was a crime in Louisiana for anyone but a government-licensed funeral director to sell caskets to the public.  The monks brought suit in federal court on the ground that this arbitrary restriction served no legitimate public purpose and existed only to funnel money to the funeral-director cartel.

"The U.S. Supreme Court's denial of review puts the final nail in the coffin for the state board's protectionist and outrageous campaign against the monks," according to Scott Bullock, senior attorney of the Institute for Justice (IJ), which represented the monks.  "The Abbey's victory in this case will not only protect their right to sell caskets, but the rights of entrepreneurs throughout the country."

The monks' victory is one of only a handful of cases since the 1930s in which federal courts have enforced the constitutional right to economic liberty.

Abbot Justin Brown, who heads the monastic community said, "Today is a good day for us at the Abbey.  Knowing that not only has our economic liberty been protected forever, but that we also helped secure the same rights for others makes this years-long battle worth it."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports IJ.
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