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UNITED STATES V. KRAS, 409 U. S. 434 (1973)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Kras, 409 U.S. 434 (1973)

United States v. Kras

No. 71-749

Argued October 18, 1972

Decided January 10, 1973

409 U.S. 434


Appellee, an indigent who filed a voluntary petition in bankruptcy, sought discharge without payment of the fees, aggregating no more than $50, that are a precondition to discharge in such a proceeding. The District Court, relying primarily on Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U. S. 371 (where the Court held that a State could not consistently with due process and equal protection requirements, deny access to divorce courts to indigents unable to pay filing and other fees), held the bankruptcy fee provisions, as applied to appellee, an unconstitutional denial of Fifth Amendment rights of due process, including equal protection.

Held: This case is not controlled by Boddie, supra. For here, access to courts is not the only conceivable relief available to bankrupts; the filing-fee requirement does not deny an indigent the equal protection of the laws, since there is no constitutional right to obtain a discharge of one's debts in bankruptcy; the right to a discharge in bankruptcy is not a "fundamental" right demanding a compelling governmental interest as a precondition to regulation; and there is a rational basis for the fee requirement. Pp. 409 U. S. 443-450.

331 F.Supp. 1207, reversed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 409 U. S. 450. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 409 U. S. 451. DOUGLAS and BRENNAN, JJ., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 409 U. S. 457. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 409 U. S. 458.

Page 409 U. S. 435

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