IJ Fights Grave Injustice Created by N.J. Headstone Cartel

Lawsuit to allow private religious ceremonies to sell pretty carved rocks


I expected more tentacles.
Credit: CthulhuWho1 (Will Hart) / photo on flickr

First caskets, now this? In 2013 the liberty lawyers of the Institute for Justice (IJ) successfully helped a group of Louisiana monks fight for the right to build and sell caskets in the face of state-induced regulatory monopoly.

Now IJ is working up in New Jersey in a very similar milieu. Instead of caskets, it's headstones. Instead of the Benedictine monks of St. Joseph's Abbey, it's the Roman Catholic Diocese of Newark. Instead of Louisiana's State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, it's a cartel-protecting law pushed by the Monument Builders Association of New Jersey. The diocese wants to sell headstones to its own parishioners. The Monument Builders Association thinks this is somehow unfair. From IJ:

The Archdiocese has been embroiled in a dispute with the Monument Builders Association of New Jersey, which convinced the state Legislature to pass this law after losing a different lawsuit against the Archdiocese last spring. In 2013, the Monument Builders sued the Archdiocese in state court, arguing that it was "unfair" for private religious cemeteries to sell headstones, but lost because it was not illegal for the Archdiocese to sell headstones to people being buried in its cemeteries. This new lawsuit seeks to overturn the law, which was passed in the spring, explicitly making it against the law to simply sell a headstone.

"A headstone is just a beautiful rock and there is no legitimate reason to restrict who can sell one," explained IJ Senior Attorney Jeff Rowes. "This attack on the economic liberty of the Archdiocese is one of countless examples from across the country of how special interests and lawmakers conspire to clobber consumers and drive up prices. We are willing to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to fight this," he added.

There is, obviously, no valid public safety or health reason for the state of New Jersey to play any role in determining who may sell headstones to whom. Just as with the situation with the caskets in Louisiana, this is all about protecting a group of connected people from competition.

Such laws that impair economic liberty may run afoul of the 14th Amendment, or so argues Reason's own Damon Root. He discusses the roots of the amendment and various important precedents in his new book, Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court, and defends his claim against a law professor that the 14th Amendment does not protect economic liberty from state intrusion here and here

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  1. What’s the world coming to when Jersey mobsters would let the church get railed by masons?

    1. Masons v Catholics. Jewish conspiracy?

    2. These kinds of stories….

      [dons Fist’s sunglasses]

      leave me mortified…

      1. You put on the sunglasses at the drop of a hat. Make it special

  2. Where’s the Commie Mitford sister when you need her?

    1. She’s dead, and either buried with her own headstone so no family cares, or cremated and doesn’t need one.

      She’s got hers already, no more dog in the fight.

  3. Coercive monopolies …. either legalized by the state or we are talking about the state itself.

  4. Also can we blame Canada on the Irish? The sole reason New Brunswick and Nova Scotia joined was because of Fenian raids.

    1. Yes. Yes, you can.

  5. I’m tired of the distinction between civil rights and economic rights. There are only rights. Allowing them to be phrased as if they are distinct, and infringements on one set doesn’t cross over into the other is how statists justify their theft and mob tactics.

    1. ^^ This

    2. Yes. So much so. Yes.

    3. You may be tired, but it you plan to “discuss” issues with economic fascists , then you’d better come armed with civil rights and not economic rights ; or what some may also call political cross-dressing !

      1. If you couldn’t afford to lobby the state house for preferential treatment, then you shouldn’t have gone into business in the first place…at least until we over turn Citizens United and you can’t lobby anyone any more (legally anyway).

        /economic fascist response

        1. I could !. I spent a penny . They just didn’t listen. 😀

        2. “If you couldn’t afford to lobby the state house for preferential treatment, then you shouldn’t have gone into business in the first place.”

          If you can’t afford to pay a ‘living wage’ to your employees, you should go out of business!
          Stated as a ‘defense’ of M/W laws, amazingly enough.

          1. The whole thing with Citizen’s United is it didn’t really get money out of politics as much as it made sure it was focused into the respective campaigns official channels. It wasn’t so much about limiting money as politicians controlling the message and perhaps even capping how much is spent in an area.

            The idea that politicians want money out of politics is absurd.

    4. You can’t right historical wrongs by committing more historical wrongs if property rights are respected. You want to live in a just society, don’t you?

      1. No, I don’t.

  6. Lindsey Graham may be a warmongering douche, but this made me laugh:

    Lindsey Graham ?@LindseyGrahamSC 5h5 hours ago
    Probably getting a new phone. iPhone or Android?

    1. I think Trump giving out his number is the most-awesomely juvenile thing I’ve ever seen in a campaign. And it just makes me want to see MOAR JUVENILE STUFFZ!!11

      1. Come on. That would be like the 40th most juvenile thing Lee Atwater ever did.

        Atwater once hired an actor to pretend to be a reporter and ask a political opponent about ‘psychotic treatments’ he’d had when he was young. Atwater then told reporters the candidate had been ‘hooked up to jumper cables,’ which referred to him getting electroshock therapy.

        He also sent around a memo insinuating that a recently elected Speaker of the House was gay.

        1. I thought Atwater died several years before Denny Hastert became Speaker.


    Canadian man faces prison time for criticizing feminists on Twitter. Lauren Southern interviewed him with Ezra Levant’s new news organization and the story is pretty fucked up.

    1. Yeah. It’s nuts.

      1. Forget it, Rufus. It’s Canadatown.

        1. NEVER FORGET!

          As a Member of Parliament, Rose proposed the first medicare legislation and the first anti-hate legislation.

          You know the Stalinist Stooge who was expelled for being part of a Soviet Spy Ring?

  8. The monument makers point may be that it is unfair for them to have to pay taxes on their profits while the diocese doesn’t? If the playing field is level, vis a vis theft (e.g. taxes) then they have no complaints.

    1. Sounds a bit like the cabbies vs. Uber complaint about the high cost of taxi medallions that Uber doesn’t have to pay. That which sucks for the local patriarchs who run the cab businesses is good for the consumer.

    2. Sure, but the demand is never ‘remove the restrictions on us’. Its always ‘put these restrictions on them’.

  9. Don’t worry gay marriage won’t mean the end of religious freedom or government mandated acceptance of gays. And screw the Catholic Church for backing down. Cowards…..s-funeral/

    1. Before saying they’re backing down, we have to know what they were backing down *from.*

      This article by a canon lawyer gives some discussion:…..-the-altar

      Basically, it is the responsibility of any Catholic conscious of unrepented mortal sin *not* to take communion.

      But what if (s)he publically approaches the communion table anyway? Is the priest automatically to turn the person away? No, not unless the person was excommunicated or is “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin.” It’s not enough that the person sinned, he must be *known* to be *unrepentant.* If the priest isn’t sure of this, he must give the person communion, and if the person is unworthy, the person will incur the spiritual consequences. (another exception is if the person wants to desecrate the Host – of course such a person shouldn’t be given one)

      So I’d have to know a bit more about this case.

      The key is that it’s *not* about the feelz of any of the participants. It’s a matter of handling the Body of Christ.

      1. So it is possible to say at one and the same time that:

        (a) A person with an unrepented moral sin on his soul will commit sacrilege by taking communion


        (b) Except for certain strictly-defined situations, the priest *must* give the person communion.

        1. But look for these nuances to be obliterated in the chorus of outrage.

      2. Which is deadlier, a Canon Lawyer or a Chainsaw Bear?

        1. or Laser Shark.

        2. Sigh…John was suggesting they were automatically “cowards” for “backing down,” as if there’s only one obvious outcome in this story.

  10. Cincy cop shoots unarmed man in head at traffic stop. Has this made the rounds?…..index.html

    1. Didn’t have a front license plate.

      1. why are university police officers pulling people over for traffic violations?

        1. When I have been pulled over by SUNY police in the past I was always a dick. Now I am going to be a little nicer.

          1. I thought you were a dick 24/7. :-p

        2. Well, if Ohio has a law like Texas’, school-based police have full police authority in municipal/county jurisdiction.

          And, they are often used to supplement local police (hey, gotta generate revenue through the courts somehow!).

      2. He’s got a hole for attaching one now.

    2. [Officer]Tensing fired a single shot, hitting the driver in the head. Tensing fell to the ground as he fired the shot, bruising his legs and tearing his uniform, Cincinnati police said.

      Thanks be to the Lord he still made it home safely to the loving arms of his family.

      1. And amazingly it only took him one shot to hit his target.

        1. They’re ignoring the other two magazines he emptied.

      2. Officer “Tensing” sounds a bit more accurate than Office “Friendly”.

    3. I don’t know what happened, but I’m open to the possibility that Mr. 60 warrants and 13 children may have had something to do with it.

      Disclaimer: I could be totally off base here. The arrests could simply have been harassment, he could be a Mormon or Catholic or Quiverfull kind of guy. Basically I dunno.

      I’m not you guys do, either.

      1. Ok, you win this round. I refuse to lose to Catholic twice, though. 🙂

    4. 13 Children. 60 Prior arrests. You’re gonna need a big damn poster to make this guy a poster child.

  11. “But if just anyone can sell headstones, it will be chaos! It will be a race to the bottom! No-one will be able to make a living!!”


    1. The wages of sin is $15 an hour?

    2. Do you want some substandard, shoddy headstone? It might fall over and kill the person it’s supposed to be honoring!

  12. Wikipedia on Elihu Yale:

    As governor of Fort St. George, Yale purchased territory for private purposes with East India Company funds, including a fort at Tevnapatam (now Cuddalore). Yale imposed high taxes for the maintenance of the colonial garrison and town, resulting in an unpopular regime and several revolts by Indians, brutally quelled by garrison soldiers. Yale was also notorious for arresting and trying Indians on his own private authority, including the hanging of a stable boy who had absconded with a Company horse.[4]

    Charges of corruption were brought against Elihu Yale in the last years of his Presidency. He was eventually removed in 1692 and replaced with Nathaniel Higginson as the President of Madras.

    The records of this period mention a flourishing slave trade in Madras. When the demand began to increase rapidly, the English merchants began to kidnap young children and deport them to distant parts of the world, very much against their will. Under pressure from the Mughal government, the administration of Fort St George eventually stepped in and introduced laws to curb the menace. On 2 February 1688, Elihu Yale, with the support of a majority of factors, decreed that henceforth, slaves should be examined by the judges of the choultry before being transported. Transportation of young children, in particular, was made unlawful.[6]

    1. Corrupt Imperialist white-cismale lackey of an evil corporation oppressing brown people and allowing slavery? Rename Yale!

      And Harvard too. Being a Puritan Minister in Colonial Massachusetts I highly doubt John Harvard had very PC attitudes.

  13. In case you want your brain to explode before bed.
    Why libertarians should love Bernie

    1. Richman and Long approve. Will BHL be posting that soon?

    2. Ah, yes, “I used to be libertarian but now I’m like mature and stuff.”

      1. Something something orcs.

    3. Those not actively making problems worse are obsessed with non-stories and fictitious “scandals,” featuring Benghazi, Jade Helm, e-mail servers or any of the other innumerable, invented outrages.

      Well, you’ve certainly convinced me. Bernie it is.

      1. Wouldn’t saying fictitious “scandals”, with scandals in quotes, make them non fictitious scandals?

        1. Only to those so obsessed.

    4. We say a person’s value is what the “market will bear,” and if the market has no use for a particular human, he or she has no inherent worth. That’s pretty sick. Should we just let them starve to death? For the radical right, the answer is an enthusiastic “absolutely.”
      Damn right my libertarian brothers(no sisters, because women, lol). The market, if left to its own devices, will result in genocide, just what a delusional libertarian desires. ::rubs hands together:: It is so awesome to let large swaths of society slowly starve.

      Even though the idea of socialism is anathema to libertarians, the two groups have a lot in common, on drug-law reform and the privacy of private sexual conduct for instance.
      Because socialism doesn’t deign to mold society. These are clearly the two best examples. These proof-free narratives about escaping the libertarian plantation are so refreshing. I am convinced. Wal-Mart is evil because it makes a large profit and ideas and people matter, ipso facto, Bernie is the answer.

      America is under siege by a small, insular aristocracy, and they won’t go down without a fight.
      Damn right! Give the government(who is in charge of making laws and legal tender) more power!

      We need no more perfect example of American feudalism than power being passed back and forth between ruling houses.
      To hell with the Bushes and Clintons! Give government over to someone who’s political ideology has never caused misery.

      1. Character limits my friends. As the college aged girl on the train the other day said “He’s just so progressive! It’s so awesome!”

  14. Woo! Vancouver wins – suck it, rest of Canada.

    Mayor ChooChoo talk climate change with Pope

    Only Canadian mayor to attend talks. So you know it’s gonna be high quality stuff.
    And by “wins” I mean “once again shows stereotypes about it are true.”

    1. Where’s Tory?

      1. Being all loserly and NOT talking to Pope. I think I made that clear. The only Canadian mayor.

    2. Oh, for pete’s sake!
      One more ignoramus who read the introduction to Atlas Shrugged and has now seen the error of his ways!
      That sewage pile Jackand ace claims he showed up here to ‘learn’, too; my BS gauge is red-lined.

  15. “A headstone is just a beautiful rock and there is no legitimate reason to restrict who can sell one,” explained IJ Senior Attorney Jeff Rowes.

    *** rising intonation ***

    What about one engraved with the Confederate flag?

    1. Just burn it then.

  16. I know a good place where you can order a good quality headstones dublin and absolute custom and 3d design beutifull memorial plaques dublin. Please let me know what you think about it 🙂

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