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Issa Introduces Bicameral Legislation to Streamline, Remove Cost to Access Federal Court Records System

November 3, 2021

WASHINGTON DC – Today, Congressman Darrell Issa, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property & the Internet, introduced the Open Courts Act to make it easier and remove the unnecessary cost to access the nation’s database of federal judicial filings, known as the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Rep. Issa was joined in the introduction of the legislation by Subcommittee Chairman Hank Johnson (GA-04). Earlier this year, Senators Rob Portman (OH) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Senate companion of the bill.

“Public court records belong to the public – and finding and acquiring them should be both easy and without undue cost,” said Rep. Issa. “The truth is, the PACER system is also antiquated and impractical, which creates undue burdens for too many Americans. Reform is long overdue.”

“Modernizing and streamlining the federal courts’ records system and eliminating the PACER paywall is long overdue,” said Rep. Johnson. “The Open Courts Act levels the playing field for the public and the press by making court records as widely available as possible. How much money you have should not dictate your access to justice. This bill is bipartisan, bicameral, commonsense good government at its best.”

“PACER was intended to create a level playing field for small-time litigants, small business, civil society, journalists, and citizens who care about transparency in government,” said Senator Portman. “However, with its frustrating interface and fees, PACER has done the opposite. The American people should have easy access to the court records of their country, and this bipartisan, bicameral legislation will fix the problem once and for all by putting in place a free, streamlined system with an emphasis on security, accessibility, affordability, and performance.”

Darrell Issa is the Representative of California’s 50th Congressional District. The District encompasses the central and northeastern parts of San Diego County and a portion of Riverside County, including the communities of Fallbrook, San Marcos, Valley Center, Ramona, Escondido, Santee, Lakeside, El Cajon, Temecula, and the mountain and desert areas of the San Diego-Imperial County line. Issa served as the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform from 2011-2015.