Boddie v. Connecticut

401 U.S. 371 (1971)


The State of Connecticut required an average cost of $60 in court fees to bring a divorce in their courts. Boddie was unable to pay either the court fees required by statute or the costs incurred for the service of process. The clerk of the Superior Court returned the papers on the ground that he could not accept them until the proper fees had been paid. Subsequent efforts to obtain a fee waiver were of no avail. Boddie (P) filed this action in Federal District Court for relief by declaring the statute that required such fees for divorce unconstitutional. A three-judge court was convened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2281, and that court concluded that a state [may] limit access to its civil courts and, particularly, in this instance, to its divorce courts, by the requirement of a filing fee or other fees which effectively bar persons on relief from commencing actions therein. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.