A Coffin for Special-Interest Regulation


This is a story about monks and coffins, not vampires and coffins. But, since it takes place in Louisiana, you might be thinking “vampires.” And not just because Interview With a Vampire, Fevre Dream, Dracula 2000 and True Blood have all focused on the Pelican State as a hotbed of undead activity.

You see, it also deals with government. And — of course! — a particular kind of bloodsucking.

The brothers of Saint Joseph Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Covington, Louisiana, began to make hand-make caskets in 2007. The enterprise was designed as a fund-raising effort to help cover educational and health-care expenses. But the state’s Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors swooped in and shut down the operation before one wooden “final resting place” had been sold.

And so the monks sued, arguing that the restriction was arbitrary and “served no legitimate public purpose and existed only to funnel money to the funeral-director cartel.”

Exactly. That’s how these sort of things work. The government allows special interests to regulate markets, and suck as much wealth up as possible. It’s the most common form of vampirism today.

Yesterday, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the monks, ruling unanimously. This is historic. And inspiring.

And, yes, it’s the result of good work done by the Institute for Justice, a free-market legal outfit that represented the monks.

Still, I wonder: Do we owe this eminently just ruling at least in part to the easy-to-empathize-with plaintiffs? Would the ruling have been so favorable had the suit been initiated by ordinary Joes? Or an irascible old vampire hunter? (I say this knowing that the folks at IJ are polite, professional, and, uh, youthful, if not eternally so.)

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Clipart from Clipartheaven.com

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mar

    A good attorney knows that a sympathetic client helps build a case.

  2. Mar
    Paul Jacob

    Indeed, Rob. IJ has been very, very smart about that fact.

  3. Mar

    Being easy-to-empathize with doesn’t necessarily ensure victory. Remember Suzette Kelo.

  4. Mar
    Paulina West

    Is that not as bad as stealing candy from a baby – telling monks not to make handmade coffins? (:

    Thanks Paul, you are appreciated!

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