Codes, Statutory, and Constitutional Research


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U.S. Constitution
U.S. Code
Annotated and online codes
State codes
Public Laws and Statutes at Large

 

 

 

 

Statutory Research

  • Slip laws, session laws, codes
  • Positive law vs. prima facie evidence of law
  • Research usually in codes, but the determinative text is in statutes
  • Not all legislation is codified:  see statutes to find uncodified laws
  • Recodification process (states)
  • Official and unofficial editions
  • Annotated codes

 

Slip Laws, Session Laws, Codes

  • Slip Laws:  First official text, individual pamphlets
  • Session Laws:  Permanent, chronological arrangement by legislative session
  • Advance session services:  commercial slip law services
  • Codes:  Statutes in fixed topical arrangements, session laws rearranged, with amendments, deletion of repealed laws
  • Official Codes:  Published or approved by the government
  • Annotated Codes:  Reproduce official code text with editorial enhancements, annotations of cases interpreting or affecting the statute, plus cross-references to other research materials

Choosing whether to start with the Code or the uncodified statute (Public Laws)

  • Code:
    • For current, compiled, related statutes on a topic
    • Reviewing the laws currently in force
    • Where enacted into positive law
    • Older statutes still in effect
    • Superseded codes as of a particular date
    • If you already have a code citation
    • Browsing when limited to print
  • Statute:
    • Finding law as originally passed
    • When the statute has been codified in multiple places; find the pertinent sections, then update
    • For non-permanent statutes that aren't codified, such as appropriations acts
    • Recent acts not yet codified
    • First step in legislative history research

 

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