National Veterans Legal Services Program v. United States

A lawsuit challenging fees the federal judiciary charges for access to court records

On January 29, 2019, the Knight Institute joined an amicus brief filed by the ACLU in National Veterans Legal Services Program v. United States, a lawsuit challenging the legality of the fees that federal courts charge for electronic access to court records.

Through an internet portal known as Public Access to Court Electronic Records, or PACER, the federal judiciary allows the public to remotely access the millions of records filed in federal judicial proceedings. The judiciary charges a fee for access to PACER, currently set at $0.10 a page (up to a maximum of $3.00 per legal filing) and $2.40 for each audio recording. The revenue generated by PACER’s fees far exceeds the actual cost of operating PACER.

The amicus brief joined by the Knight Institute argues that the First Amendment right of access to court records applies to PACER and serves to limit the fees that may be constitutionally charged the public for access.

Status: Awaiting decision. Argued on February 3, 2020 (listen to the argument here).

Case Information: Nat’l Veterans Legal Servs. Program v. United States, Nos. 19-1081 & 19-1083 (Fed. Cir.).

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