December 09, 2021

Senate Committee Passes Wyden’s Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Easy & Free Use of Federal Court Record System

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today announced that his bipartisan legislation to reform the federal government’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by voice vote.

The PACER system, a database of federal judicial filings, is outdated and charges exorbitant fees to users. This bill will reform PACER to ensure easy and free public access to federal government court records.

“For far too long, unnecessary paywalls have kept the American people from freely accessing public court records. The Open Courts Act will deliver a long-overdue upgrade to PACER, totaling a savings of more than a hundred million dollars a year in operating costs. Federal courts will then be able to remove burdensome paywalls and provide the public, including researchers and journalists, with free access to public court documents,” Wyden said.

The Open Courts Act would modernize the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts’ underlying record system and eliminate the PACER paywall that forces the public to pay more than $140 million annually to access court records. The new system will provide a stable, secure, easily searchable site to file and read court records and monitor docket activity. All public court records on the site will be available free of charge. Wyden previously introduced Open Courts Act with Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, during the 116th Congress.