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Government's Pro-PACER Fees Argument Falls Flat

The Federal Circuit today heard arguments in 19-1081, National Veterans Legal Services Program, et al., v. U.S., a case concerning the legality of PACER fees. Fix the Court supports bipartisan reform efforts that would allow federal court filings to be accessed for free in a searchable, streamlined fashion.

FTC executive director Gabe Roth released the following statement:

“Government attorneys keep claiming that the judiciary couldn’t possibly build a case management and document retrieval system that requires no user fees. But anyone who’s used the Internet to retrieve public information knows that such a task is possible – and not that difficult.

“That’s why the government, as we heard again today, does not want to see the case determined on the merits and instead has advanced its position almost entirely on procedural  grounds, asserting that PACER fees aren’t subject to judicial oversight.”

“That argument falls flat, but it’s one we hope will soon be moot, as members of Congress in both parties are working to create a free, searchable PACER replacement.”

In addition, Roth and R Street Institute fellow Anthony Marcum pushed the Federal Circuit to expedite the release of the audio of today’s argument. Though they declined to provide live access, they agreed to post the audio shortly after the completion of the case. 

“I appreciate the Federal Circuit’s willingness to engage with transparency advocates to improve public access to the courtroom” Roth added. “The public’s interest in the workings of the court merit increased access, and I look forward to working with the Federal Circuit to find ways of making that happen.”

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