Federal Statutes Florida State Law Research Center Fall 2009 Robin Gault
How are statutes published? Pattern of publication: Slip laws: often available only on Web today Session laws: numbered sequentially, published in bound set organized by legislative session. Index covers only one session. Example: Statutes at Large
Statutory compilation (code): includes permanent, general laws in force arranged by subject. Updated as new session laws are passed. Official code: published by government, not usually annotated. Example: U.S. Code Annotated code: unofficial, published by private publisher. Examples: USCA, USCS.
Identifying federal session laws Public Laws (Pub. L. or P.L.) vs. Private Laws (Priv. L. or Pvt. L.) Cite to Statutes at Large: (vol.) Stat. (page) Since 1957, laws numbered by session of Congress: Pub. L. 110-17, 121 Stat. 73 (2007). Older session laws cited by date and chapter number: Act of June 20, 1874, Chap. 341, 18 Stat. 123.
Online federal government source for session laws 1995- present : GPO Access: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/plaws/index.html FDsys: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=PLAW
Only permanent general statutes in force will be found in a code. Excludes appropriations acts but may include other permanent statutes that are enacted as part of an “omnibus” appropriations act.
Common Features of Codes • General index to laws in force. • Tables allowing conversion from session law to code section. • Popular name table 4. Reference to session law in parenthesis after each section. 5. Historical notes on amendments, changes after sections.
Fifty titles (subject areas) in U.S. Code. Code sections are cited by title and section number, rather than by volume and page. Example: 15 U.S.C. § 15b. (shown below)
Federal Statutory Compilations Revised Statutes of 1875: Entire compilation passed as one statute. Errors corrected in R.S. 1878, but compilation not passed as one statute. U.S. Code created 1926. 50 titles (subject divisions), some subsequently passed as positive law. Print published every 6 years, with annual bound supplements. (For information about official U.S. Code, see GPO Access page: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/uscode/about.html
U.S. Code Online from U.S. House of Representatives: http://uscode.house.gov/download/download.shtml (Note that the “official” online version is only updated as often as the print version.) • Also available from GPO Access: • http://www.gpoaccess.gov/uscode/index.html
Updating Code Online The Cornell Legal Information Institute maintains links to the official U.S. Code online but also offers an updating service for each section with links to the Library of Congress’s Thomas database: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/
Sources for Session Laws HeinOnline (Research Center flat-rate subscription) has PDFs of Statutes at Large and U.S. Code. To access, go to Research Center homepage: http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/index.html Click on “Research Resources,” “Most used legal databases,” and “HeinOnline.”
Westlaw and Lexis also cover federal session laws: Lexis filename STATLG has session laws 1789-present Westlaw filename PL has current session, PL-OLD has 1973-2008, US-STATLRG has 1789-1972.
Source for Older U.S. Code HeinOnline also has PDFs of all the older editions of the official U.S. Code.
U.S. Code Annotated Published by West Publishing. Text taken from U.S. Code. Updated with annual pocket parts, quarterly pamphlet service, and USCCAN. Replacement volumes published as needed. Westlaw filename USCA (updated constantly).
U.S. Code Service Published by LexisNexis. Text taken from Statutes at Large. Updated by annual pocket parts, monthly pamphlet service. Replacement volumes published as needed. Lexis filename USCS (constantly updated).
Annotated Code Features USCS and USCA include research references to law review articles, treatises, ALR, etc. (USCS has more references to administrative rules.) They also include extensive case annotations. Both contain annotations for U.S. Constitution and federal court rules. USCA has court rules under T.28, USCS in separate volumes. (USCS also has rules of administrative procedure.)
Good introduction to federal statutory research: Law Librarians’ Society of Washington D.C. Legislative Sourcebook: http://www.llsdc.org/sourcebook/