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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Gladys Boddie et al.
(reargued the cause for the appellants)
(reargued the cause for the appellee)
Facts of the Case 

Gladys Boddie was a married resident of Connecticut receiving welfare benefits. She filed for a divorce in New Haven County Superior Court. However, Boddie was not given a hearing because she had not paid the filing fee under Section 52-259 of the Connecticut General Statutes. Given her welfare status, she was unable to pay the fee. Her requests for fee waivers were also denied. Boddie and others who were denied divorces under Section 52-259 challenged the fee requirement in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. They alleged that the fee requirement violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court upheld the requirement. Boddie appealed to the Supreme Court.


Did Connecticut's fee requirement for divorce filings violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Decision: 8 votes for Boddie, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

Yes. In an 8-1 decision, the Court reversed the District Court and held the fee requirement unconstitutional. In a majority opinion authored by Justice John M. Harlan, the Court recognized the importance of "access to the courts" for Boddie, as state court was the only method of obtaining a divorce in Connecticut. While the Court acknowledged Connecticut's interest in conserving limited resources and preventing "frivolous litigation," this interest was not a "sufficient countervailing justification." Therefore, Connecticut's refusal to allow Boddie to proceed with her divorce was "a denial of due process" in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice William O. Douglas concurred in the result. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. concurred in part.

Cite this Page
BODDIE v. CONNECTICUT. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 30 August 2015. <>.
BODDIE v. CONNECTICUT, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 30, 2015).
"BODDIE v. CONNECTICUT," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 30, 2015,