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Guide to Sources of U.S. Law

Research guide to finding basic sources of United States law.

Statutory Law

Congressional Sources on Proposed Legislation

 

  • CIS Annual. 1970-2000. (Microtext Rm. KF 49.C62)
    Published by the Congressional Information Service. Indexes and abstracts, committee hearings, reports, documents, and prints.

  • CIS US Congressional Committee Hearings Index (Microtext Rm. JK 1001.C22 1981)  5 v.  23rd Congress (1833)-91st Congress (1969)

  • CQ Weekly Reports

  • Congressional Digest. 1921-current. (JK 1.C64)

  • Congressional Index. 1944-1997/98. (JK 1001.C73)
    Brief reporting of congressional activity, giving access by subject, sponsor, bill and resolution number. Traces bill's progress through committees.

  • Congressional Quarterly Almanac. 1949-current. (Ref JK 1.C66)
    Digest of the weekly reports.

  • Congressional Research Service Reports, OpenCRS Network
    Search for all Congressional Research Service reports on the web. CRS reports are prepared for Congress to support the legislative process.

  • LexisNexis Congressional
    Includes CIS indexing and abstracting of Congressional publications and links to full-text of hearings, bills, laws, Congressional documents, the Congressional Record (back to 1985), Federal Register (back to 1981), Code of Federal Regulations (back to 1981), and U.S. Code, and more.

  • GPO Access
    Online access to Congressional bills, the Congressional Record, the Congressional Directory, U.S. Code, Public Laws, etc.

  • Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (Ref Z1223.A18) 1897-2003 and online at MarciveWeb Docs

  • THOMAS: Legislative Information on the Internet
    Contains major legislation from the current Congress, bills and resolutions from 93rd (1973-74) to 111th, the Congressional Record, committee reports, committee home pages, etc.

  • U.S. Serial Set
    Reports, Documents, and Journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Digital version available from Readex up to 1977. Upon completion, the set will cover 1817-1980. Indexing to the Serial Set is also in Congressional Universe.

 

Federal Statutes

 

Public Laws

After a bill becomes a law, it is assigned a public law number and paginated for the Statutes at Large volume that covers that session of Congress. The law numbers are sequential starting at the beginning of each Congress. For example, the first public law of the 105th Congress is designated Public Law 105-1.

Public laws are available in THOMAS for the 93d through 111th Congress.

 

Slip Laws

A law is first issued in pamphlet form as a slip law. Eventually these are bound into the Statutes at Large and later codified into the United States Code.

 

  • Slip Laws (Public, GPO Access)
    When a law is passed, it first appears as a "slip law," i.e., the text is printed and issued separately. At the end of each Congressional session, the slip laws are published in chronological order as United States Statutes At Large (Main KF 50.U52) Online version covers 104th Congress 1995/96-current. Also in print in US Docs AE 2.110:

  • LexisNexis Congressional
    Includes CIS indexing and abstracting of Congressional publications and links to full-text of hearings, bills, public laws, Congressional documents, the Congressional Record (back to 1985), Federal Register (back to 1981), Code of Federal Regulations (back to 1981), and U.S. Code, and more.

  • United States Statutes At Large. 1845-current. (KF 50.U52)
    Includes statutes from 1789 to date in chronological sequence. There is no cumulative index to United States Statutes At Large. Subject access to federal statutes may be obtained through the index to each volume of the Statutes or the topical arrangement of the U.S. Code Service.

  • United States Code
    Available in print in US Doc Y 1.2/5:2000 and US Doc Y1.2/5:2006, in Congressional Universe, and in GPO Access.


Indexes to Statutes


  • Shepard's Acts and Cases by Popular Names. Latest ed. and supplements. (Ref KF90.S52)
    Cites only acts and cases having a popular name.

For laws passed after 1970, subject access with complete legislative history can be found in:


  • CIS Annual. 1970-2000. (Microtext Rm. KF 49.C62)
    Citations to public laws and their legislative histories are found at the end of the abstract volume or, after 1984, in a separate volume.

  • LexisNexis Congressional
    Contains full-text of public laws and bills and CIS legislative histories.