US Statutes and Legislative History

Questions on statutory research and federal legislative history are among the most frequent at the Brooklyn Law School Library Reference Desk. The library receives Federal public and private laws in “slip” (paper) form and shelves the slip laws chronologically by public or private law number. The slip laws are arranged on the shelves in the Statutory Collection on the second floor. Other print sources include the United States Statutes at Large, 1845- (Stat. – KF 50 U658), the United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (“USCCAN”) (Stat. – KF 48 W45) USCCAN includes the session laws published in United States Statutes at Large, selected reports, Presidential signing statements, and Presidential veto messages, and references to other legislative history materials. It is arranged by public law number.

There are two commercial codifications of US statutes: (1) West’s United States Code Annotated (Stat. – KF 62 1927 W45) which offers West digest topic and key number references and provides references to West publications such as USCCAN and Corpus Juris Secundum as well as citations to legislative history materials published in USCCAN; and (2) Lexis’ United States Code Service (Stat. – KF62 1972 .L38) which includes annotations from courts, and provides references to Lawyers Cooperative publications such as American Jurisprudence and American Law Reports. The official United States Code (Stat. – KF 62 1994 A2), which does not include annotations from courts, is available on the GPO Access website.

Also on the internet are recently enacted laws at THOMAS which includes public laws from the 93rd to the 111th Congresses. The U.S. Government Printing Office Web Site includes public laws from the 104th to the 111th Congresses. To find compiled legislative histories in the BLS Library collection, students can search SARA using Library of Congress Subject Headings for Legislative History Research, for example, Legislative Histories — United States; Legislative Histories — United States – Bibliography. The Bluebook Rules for legislative materials are found in Rule 12 (Statutes) and Rule 13 (Legislative Materials).

Students interested in learning more about legislative history research can register for a Hein Legislative History Webinar taking place on Thursday, November 18 2:00pm to 2:45pm. Registration on the use of Hein’s database materials for conducting legislative histories is free at this site.