Open Courts Act Excluded From $1.66 Trillion Government Spending Bill

The $1.66 trillion omnibus spending bill, advanced by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, excludes the Open Courts Act of 2021.

The Open Courts Act seeks to provide free access to federal court documents filed on PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). The act would also mandate the federal judiciary to develop a new website to access electronic court records. The bipartisan Open Courts Act of 2020 previously passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate’s version of the bill advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in December 2021. The federal judiciary previously raised concerns citing “devastating budgetary and operational impact on the Judiciary.” The judiciary is currently working on plans to modernize PACER and provide a new electronic case management system.

Although the 4,155-page omnibus spending bill excludes the Open Courts Act of 2021, the bill does include $750 million for court security, which is a $45 million increase from the figure allotted for in the 2022 fiscal year. Last week, Congress passed the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act as part of a defense policy bill. The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act shields judges’ personal information online in an effort to increase judicial security and privacy. The act is named after Daniel Anderl, the murdered son of Judge Esther Salas. Anderl’s murderer posed as a courier after finding Judge Salas’s home address on the internet.

Disclosure: Justia provides the community with open and free access to the law. We strongly believe that the law belongs to all of us and that everyone should have access to the laws that touch and affect our lives. Justia’s CEO, Tim Stanley, is a signatory of the advisory letter sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2020.

Additional Reading

No free PACER as U.S. lawmakers exclude proposal from spending bill, Reuters (December 20, 2022)

S.2614 – Open Courts Act of 2021,

House of Representatives Passes the Open Courts Act of 2020 to Make PACER Free, Justia Legal News (December 9, 2020)

Federal Judiciary Proposes Addition of 79 New Judgeships and Requests Supplemental Funding to Enhance Courthouse Security, Justia Legal News (March 17, 2021)

Tech Leaders – Open Courts Act Letter

Photo Credit: Orhan Cam /