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This guide is designed to help you understand and find statutes (codes or acts). It is not meant to be comprehensive. For a complete guide of legislative materials, check out this HLS guide to Legislative History.
Here's a great tutorial on statutory research from the Georgetown Law Library.
For all other research help at HLS, email, call, chat, text us: Ask a Librarian.
Statutes are laws enacted by legislatures, such as the US Congress. Statutes are typically the place to begin research of primary legal sources. Subject only to constitutional control, they authorize promulgation of administrative regulations and can overturn or modify court decisions that themselves are sometimes concerned with staturory interpretation.
In the US, both the federal government and individual states have the power to pass statutes or laws. Some laws are handled exclusively by the federal government or Congress, while others are handled exclusively by the states. Still other laws are the subject of both state and federal governance.
This guide is arranged as follows:
- Statutory Docs: There are three types of published statutes
- Federal Code: Information on the United States Code and its annotated cohorts
- State Codes: Information on the arrangement of state codes
- Finding Codes: Information on finding the US and state codes
- Updating Codes: Making sure your statute is up to date and valid
- Quick Code Analysis: Using code sections, citators and secondary sources