A group of Catholic monks who sued for the right to sell handmade caskets will head back to court this week, fending off an appeal from the state funeral industry after a federal judge last year struck down a state law that permitted only licensed funeral directors to sell coffins.
Three members of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments June 7 n the case of the monks of St. Joseph Abbey versus Louisiana funeral homes.
The monks wanted to sell handmade cypress caskets that are made at their wood shop without paying the expensive fees and meeting the stringent requirements to obtain certification from the Louisiana Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. The abbey has said it counts on the casket sales to help finance medical and educational needs for more than 30 monks.
Last July, U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval ruled that the state statute unfairly shielded a funeral industry monopoly to the detriment of consumers.