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The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors was formed in 1914 to regulate embalmers, funeral homes, and funeral directors and to handle consumer complaints. The board has one consumer representative. The other members all work in funeral homes (Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors 2014). The monks of Louisiana's Saint Joseph abbey have to work to support it. After receiving inquires from consumers, they decided to sell the cypress caskets in which Saint Joseph Abbey has long buried its dead. A funeral place funeral homes in an unfavorable position with families” (Institute for Justice 2014a). The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors moved to prevent the monks from selling caskets. To meet the board's standards, each monk would have to earn 30 hours of college credit and apprentice for a year at a licensed funeral home. None of the skill thus gained would be related to coffin building. After opposition from the funeral industry prevented it from getting the law changed, the Abbey sued the board. The Abbey won in the district court in 2011 and in the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals in 2013. In its unanimous decision, the Circuit Court said, “The great deference due state economic regulation does not demand judicial blindness due state economic regulation does not demand judicial blindness due state challenged rule or the context of its adoption nor does it required courts to accept nonsensical explanations of regulation” (Institute for Justice 2014b.) The US Supreme Court rejected the board's petition for review, so the Circuit Court's ruling stands(Institute for Justice 2014b).
Discussion questions:

 

1. Why were funeral directors so opposed to the monks making caskets?

2. Why would licensing casket makers be a good idea?

3. In medicine, licensure and certification coexist. Is this true in any other fields?

4. How do licensure and certification differ in their protections for illinformed consumers?

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