That's the fascinating question raised by Judge King's denial of an in forma pauperis petition on budgetary funding grounds:
Su filed a complaint against Florida International University and Bowling Green State University and an application to proceed in forma pauperis. The district court denied Su’s application on the ground that it was “without sufficient funds to finance the prosecution of civil litigants.” Su then paid his filing fee.The 11th Circuit no likey:
Su moved for relief from the order denying his application. Su challenged the determination that budgetary restraints prevented him from proceeding without the prepayment of fees and requested “leave to proceed in forma pauperis.” Su submitted a letter from the Clerk stating that “[t]here was no set amount of funding for IFP applications” and the decision “[w]hether petitions are granted or not does not depend upon available funding.”
The district court denied Su’s motion. See id. The district court ruled that Su “produced no . . . evidence” that he would “suffer a substantial injustice” from having his application denied because he was able to “borrow the $350 filing fee.”
The district court abused its discretion when it denied Su’s motion for relief. Su argued that the district court applied an incorrect legal standard in determining that the right to proceed without the prepayment of costs was “depend[ent] upon available funding.” When a district court considers an application to proceed in forma pauperis, “[t]he only determination to be made . . . is whether the statements in the affidavit satisfy the requirement of poverty.”In other words, only the poverty of applicant should be considered -- not the poverty of the federal judiciary.