The Latest: Church, NJ clash on law barring headstone sales



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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Latest on a New Jersey Roman Catholic archdiocese's legal fight with the state over legislation regulating headstones at cemeteries (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

Attorneys for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark and the state of New Jersey clashed over the church's petition seeking to end a law barring private religious cemeteries from selling headstones and monuments.

Jeff Rowes, an attorney representing the church, said Wednesday in federal district court in Trenton that New Jersey's 2015 law prohibiting religious cemeteries from selling headstones is "irrational" and fails to pass constitutional muster.

Karen Confoy, an attorney arguing with the state, said the Legislature was within its rights to enact the law and the court shouldn't intervene in this case.

The case goes back to 2013 when a monument builders association sued unsuccessfully, claiming the church's tax-exempt status and relationship with parishioners gave it an unfair advantage. The Legislature outlawed the practice in 2015, and the archdiocese sued.

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12:20 a.m.

A federal judge in New Jersey is scheduled to hear arguments in a case pitting the state against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark over a law that makes it illegal for private religious cemeteries to sell monuments and headstones.

A monument builders association sued unsuccessfully in 2013, claiming the church's tax-exempt status and relationship with parishioners gave it an unfair advantage.

The state Legislature eventually outlawed the practice, and the archdiocese sued in 2015.

Both sides are scheduled to make their arguments in Trenton on Wednesday.

The state argues religious cemeteries should be treated the same as secular cemeteries that are barred from selling the monuments.

The archdiocese argues the state allows religious cemeteries to sell plots and community mausoleums and should allow them to sell headstones as well.

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The Associated Press

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