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Federal laws are initially published as "slip laws" or Public Laws.
The Public Law number refers to the number of Congress and chronological sequence of the law's enactment. For example, PL101-336 refers to the 336th law enacted by the 101st Congress.
Public Laws are cumulatively published in the United States Statutes At Large.
Public Laws and Statutes are divided into parts called "Titles" and "Sections," but these have nothing to do with the Titles and Sections of the US Code. The different parts of Public Laws and Statutes are merged into different parts of the United States Code.
Public Laws and Statutes are singular documents in time. The US Code changes over time, as Public Laws and Statutes add or delete content from the US Code.
Public Laws are available at:
(a) FDsys - FDsys Search. FDsys Browse (104th Congress- , 1995/96- ).
(b) Library of Congress - Thomas (93rd Congress- , 1973/74- ). Congress.gov Beta - Public Laws (2001- ); after running a search, filter by Legislation Type - Laws (Public, Private). [Congress.gov Beta will eventually replace Thomas.]
(c) LexisNexis > Legal > Federal Legal - U.S. > United States Code Service Materials > USCS Public Laws (100th Congress, 2nd Session- , 1988- ). USCS Public Laws is also on Lexis Advance.
(d) Westlaw > U.S. Federal Materials > Federal Statutes > US-PL (current Congress); US-PL-OLD (93rd-111th Congress, 1973-2010); USCCAN (United States Code Congressional and Administrative News, 1973- ). WestlawNext - On WestlawNext, type the name of the Act into the search bar, and postfilter for Statutes. You can also try searching the USCA Popular Names Table.
(e) Law Library (2nd floor) KF50.U53 (most recent few years).
(f) ProQuest Congressional - Public Laws (1988- ). Database in Law Library (but not on wireless) or via Cleveland Public Library remotely with library card.
(g) Statute Compilations - US House of Representatives Office of the Legislative Counsel. Frequently requested compilations of those public laws that either do not appear in the United States Code or have been classified to a title of the Code that has not been enacted into positive law.
(h) National Archives - Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789-2008 - only some are full text.
(i) Bloomberg Law - Public Laws and Statutes at Large - 1778-current
The Statutes at Large are the official permanent publication of federally enacted Private and Public Laws.
Statutes and Public Laws are divided into parts called "Titles" and "Sections," but these have nothing to do with the Titles and Sections of the US Code. The different parts of Statutes and Public Laws are merged into different parts of the US Code.
Statutes and Public Laws are singular documents in time. The US Code changes over time, as Statutes and Public Laws add or delete content from the US Code.
Statutes are available at:
(a) HeinOnline - U.S. Statutes at Large (1789-2007).
(b) Library of Congress. American Memory Project. A Century of Lawmaking For a New Nation. Statutes at Large (1st-43rd Congress, 1789-1875).
(c) LexisNexis > Federal Legal - U.S. > United States Code Service Materials > USCS Statutes at Large Table (1st Congress- , 1789- ). Provides corresponding Public Law number from Statute citation. Tells what section(s) of the USC is affected by a public law.
(d) Westlaw > U.S. Federal Materials > Federal Statutes > US-STATLRG (1789-1972). This is also on WestlawNext - United States Statutes at Large
(e) FDsys Search. FDsys Browse (82nd Congress-111th Congress, 1951-2009).
(f) Law Library (2nd floor) KF50 .U5 (1789- ); Law Library (base level) Microfilm (1789-1977) and Microfiche (1977-2001).
(g) Bloomberg Law - Public Laws and Statutes at Large - 1778-current
The United States Code is a subject compilation of federal laws. The U.S. Code is divided into 51 Titles, and each Title is divided into Sections. Each Section includes a Statutes at Large source note, as well as historical notes and cross references.
The U.S. Code was first published in 1926, and it is completely republished about every six years. Because of this very slow publication process, you should consult commercially published annotated versions of the U.S. Code.
Annotated versions of the U.S. Code: United States Code Annotated (USCA; Westlaw) and United States Code Service (USCS; LexisNexis). In the annotated codes, each Code section is followed by extensive annotations (eg, references to citations to cases, administrative code sections, attorney general opinions, legislative history materials, as well as numerous secondary sources). The annotated codes include extensive indexes and parallel reference tables. They are also supplemented by "pocket parts" or pamphlets.
Note that older editions of the U.S. Code are available on microform (see links below). LexisNexis has older versions back to 1992; Westlaw has back to 1990. The Public Library of Law, by Fastcase, has official versions back to 1988.
The official U.S. Code is available at:
(a) FDSys (1994-2011)
(b) U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Law Revision Counsel (current edition)
(c) Law Library (2nd floor) KF62 2000; Law Library (base level) Microfiche (1940- )
(d) HeinOnline U.S. Code - Copies of the official U.S.Code that is published by the government every six years. Has 1925 through 2006 editions.
Annotated versions of the U.S. Code are available at:
(a) LexisNexis > Legal > Federal Legal - U.S. > United States Code Service: Code, Const, Rules, Conventions & Public Laws; LexisNexis > Legal > Federal Legal - U.S. > United States Code Service Materials > United States Code Service - Titles 1 through 51
(b) Westlaw > U.S. Federal Materials > Federal Statutes > USCA; WestlawNext - USCA
(c) Law Library (Reference) United States Code Service KF62 .L38; Law Library (Reference & 2nd floor) United States Code Annotated KF62.5 .W45; Law Library (base level) Microfiche (1927-2000)
Bloomberg Law has:
Free Online Versions:
Before June 22, 1874, there was no codified version of U.S. Statutes - you have to look through the Statutes at Large.
The Revised Statutes of the United States was published in 1875 and a new edition came out in 1878. Both editions are on HeinOnline United States Code library. The 1875 and 1878 versions are official compilations. The next official code was not until 1926.
Also on the HeinOnline United States Code library (scroll down for links to specific titles and year) are these unofficial compilations (meaning the Statutes at Large prevails if any discrepancy in these unofficial versions):