Supreme Court lays to rest death-industry appeal without discussion


By Rachel Martin |

PITTSBURGH — On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to decide a case about state-level regulations for Pennsylvania funeral homes.

A NOVELLA OF NO: The Supreme Court on Monday released its “order list” containing 81 pages of cases that were almost entirely denied an appeal.

Funeral home director Ernie Heffner and 29 others successfully challenged many parts of Pennsylvania’s 1952 Funeral Directors Law in district court. The May 2012 ruling called those regulations a “protectionist regime” that was “outdated and patently unconstitutional.

However, that ruling was overturned by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which concluded that bad regulation is not necessarily unconstitutional.

Heffner and the other plantiffs tried appealing the second decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the case will not be heard.

“The Supreme Court declined to hear this case, but it will eventually have to answer whether it is constitutional to continue enforcing entirely obsolete laws in the economic liberty context, particularly when the Court doesn’t tolerate such laws anywhere else,” said Jeff Rowes. He is a senior attorney at the nonprofit law firm Institute for Justice and was counsel of record to the plaintiffs on the appeal.

“We set out to defend the freedom of business people to do what is best for their customers by providing innovative, relevant and contemporary services,” Heffner said.

The court’s “order list” for Monday contains very few yeses and is mostly 81 pages of nos, in one form or another.

Along with the Pennsylvania funeral home regulations case, those denials included seven same-sex marriage cases and two national security-related cases.

You can read the parties’ briefs here, here and here.