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The ramifications of this lawsuit extend far beyond Tennessee and the parties involved.At least a dozen states require casket retailers to become licensed as funeral directors or embalmers.1 No legitimate health or safety concerns justify this requirement.For many of these occupations, from shorthand reporter to fence installer, the rationale for licensing is non-existent.
By forcing the public to purchase caskets at significantly inflated prices charged by funeral homes, the licensing requirements enrich the funeral home cartel while taking advantage of consumers at their most vulnerable moments.
Thus, the monopoly allows the homes to receive, as one analyst put it, “full-time pay for part-time work.”15 These high prices affect all Americans, but hit some harder than others.
For example, cremations are becoming more and more popular among white Protestants, and are expected to account for over 40 percent of all such funeral services by 2010.16 In contrast, Catholics and ethnic minorities favor traditional funerals, and are more impacted by higher casket prices.
This case takes on additional constitutional significance because it is one of the first to urge the court to protect the right to earn an honest living through the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment since the U. Most important is the vulnerable position of consumers.
Decisions about funerals for loved ones are made in the midst of grief, discomfort, and sometimes guilt.