14th Amendment and regulation of monks building funeral caskets

“The thirty-eight monks of St. Joseph Abbey,” unable to earn income from the abbey’s timberland after Hurricane Katrina, began to sell handmade funeral caskets at a price significantly lower than that offered by funeral homes.  The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors contended that these sales violated state regulations, and the monks sought relief under the 14th Amendment, arguing that the regulations had no rational basis as applied to them.  St. Joseph Abbey v. Castille, No. 11-30756 (rev’d Nov. 21, 2012).  After an exceptionally thorough review of due process principles in the context of “rational basis review” of economic regulation (which Judge Haynes declined to join as unnecessary), the Court certified a question to the Louisiana Supreme Court about the scope of the relevant enabling statute.

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