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Law

Provides descriptive information for finding, understanding, and citing court decisions, statutes, and judicial opinions.

Finding Government Documents

The U.S. Federal Government began providing electronic versions of government documents in the early 1990s, but they can be difficult to find. There are several places in which to find a particular document because there is no consistent system of organization of these documents. This pathfinder will aid the researcher by explaining the federal system of documentation citations and providing a guide to finding the documents online.

UNDERSTANDING CITATIONS

U.S. law originates as a bill or a resolution. Bills and resolutions can be introduced into either chamber of Congress independently, jointly or concurrently. After introduction, the bill is sent to the appropriate committee. Hearings may be held and the committee will issue a report based on the hearings. Markup sessions will also be conducted in which committee members discuss the bill and make any necessary changes. A bill passed in the House may be different than that in the Senate, but both chambers must agree on an identical form of the bill before it can be submitted to the President for further action.

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH: CONGRESSIONAL ACTIVITY

Bills are cited by name ("The U.S. Patriot Act of 2001") or by a numbered citation (P.L. #107-56)

Document Type

Citation

Source

Bills

HR# or S#

House/Senate Bill #

Resolutions

H Res# or S#

House/Senate Resolution #

Joint Resolutions

HJ Res# or SJ Res #

House/Senate Joint Resolution #

Concurrent Resolutions

H Con Res# or S Con Res#

House/Senate Concurrent Resolution #

Hearings

H Hrg110-3 or S Hrg110-3

House/Senate Hearing, 110th Congress Hearing #3

Reports

H Rpt105-17 or S Rpt105-17

House/Senate Report, 105th Congress Report #7

 

After a bill or resolution is passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by the President, it becomes a law. The Statutes at Large is the official source for federal laws. The United States Code is a consolidation of federal laws arranged by subject, according to what is printed in the Statutes at Large. There are 50 broad subject categories, which are called Titles, in the U.S. Code.

LAWS ARE CITED IN ONE OF THREE WAYS: BY INDIVIDUAL LAW NUMBERS, BY STATUTES AT LARGE CITATION OR AS CLASSIFIED IN THE U.S CODE.

Citation

Source

P.L. 105-206

The 206th public law passed by the 105th Congress

110 Stat 2934

Statutes at Large, Volume 110, page 2934

42 U.S.C. 14601

United States Code, Title 42, Section 14601

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH: DOCUMENTATION

After a law is enacted, the President may issue various documents relating to the law. These include statements, proclamations and Executive Orders. Executive Orders are assigned a number; statements and proclamations do not have numerical citations. The President will also refer the law to the appropriate agency(s) for implementation and regulation. Action taken by an agency is documented as a rule or regulation. These are codified in the Federal Register or the Code of Federal Regulations. The Federal Register is a daily compilation of rules and regulations, with explanatory notes. The Code of Federal Regulations is compiled yearly, and is not annotated.

Citation

Source

64 FR 25963

Federal Register, Volume 64, page 25963

7 CFR 246.11

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7, Part 246, Section 11

 

JUDICIAL BRANCH: CASE LAW

Considers the constitutionality of a law; consists of district and appellate courts and the Supreme Court.

Citation

Source

2007 US LEXIS 8514

Supreme Court Case #8514 argued in 2007

2007 US App LEXIS 7981

Appellate Court Case #7981 argued in 2007

2007 US Dist LEXIS 38714

District Court Case #38714 argued in 2007

 

Federal Documents Online

Popular Government Publications

State and Local Documents Online

Government Documents in Print

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS IN PRINT FORM

Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago Public Library

As a depository library for government documents, they have approximately 2,000,000 government documents in print, dating from the 1800s to present, as well as an extensive collection of U.S. topographical maps from the U.S. Geological Survey and several other map series, and documents from the City of Chicago.

http://chipublib.org

http://www.chipublib.org/branch/details/library/harold-washington/p/Gpd

  • Location:
    • Fifth Floor, South
      400 South State Street
      Chicago, Illinois 60605
  • (312) 747-4500 TDD 747-4595
  • Hours: (773) L-I-B-R-A-R-Y (542-7279)

Poplar Creek Public Library

Began as a depository library in 1981, but has also acquired many older documents. Owns about 65% of all federal documents available in print, and all of the Illinois print documents. Specializes in business documents and census data; local government information covers Streamwood, Hanover Park, Hanover Township, Cook and DuPage Counties

http://www.poplarcreek.lib.il.us

  • Location:
    • 140 South Park Avenue
      Streamwood, Illinois 60107
  • (630) 837-6800 ext. 4927
  • FAX: 837-6823