Robert William Kras presented his voluntary petition in bankruptcy to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in May of 1971. With the petition his Legal Aid Society Attorneys filed a motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of any of the filing fees required as a prerequisite to discharge. Kras alleged that he was unable to pay the fees, even in installments, and that they should not be required of him either because (1) he was entitled to proceed in forma pauperis under the Federal Statute, or (2) because the provisions of the Bankruptcy Act, which conditioned a discharge upon payment of a filing fee, would deprive him of his fifth amendment rights to due process and equal protection of the laws. The District Court rejected the statutory claim but granted the petitioner's motion on constitutional grounds. On direct appeal the Supreme Court (5-4 per Blackmun, J.) reversed, holding that Kras had neither a statutory nor a constitutional right to proceed in bankruptcy without first meeting the fee obligations. In so holding, the Court refused to extend the "access to the courts" principle of Boddie v. Connecticut beyond its limited facts, i.e.: an "interest of basic importance to our society" coupled with a "state monopolization of the means for legally dissolving [the] relationship."
Arbuckle, William I.
"Access to Civil Courts - Indigents - Filing Fee; United States v. Kras,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 7
, Article 12.
Available at: http://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol7/iss1/12