This page provides information about and links to federal legislative, regulatory and
judicial law sources.
Legislation is the common term for the process Congress uses to makes laws, or more specifically
how a bill becomes a public law or private law. Public laws effect society as a whole and
private laws effect a particular person, family or group. Most bills enacted are public
laws. Public laws are published by date of enactment in the Statutes at Large. Every
six years, public laws are incorporated into the United States Code, which is a compilation of all
general and permanent laws currently in effect. The U.S. Code is arranged by subject matter,
and it shows the present status of laws that have been amended on one or more
Regulations are rules enacted pursuant to the rule making authority of federal governmental
agencies granted them by Congress. Proposed rules are first published in the Federal
Register. Public comments and hearings on the proposed regulations are then considered. Once
a regulation formally takes effect, it is known as a final rule and is published in the Code of
Federal Regulations (CFR). The CFR is organized by subject and is a compilation of all
regulations that are currently in effect.
The Judicial/Case Law section is included in this section because case law is another type
of "law" in the federal system. This is the type of law created by the Judicial Branch.
The sources listed in this section are links to databases where you can locate a specific court
opinion if you need a copy for your research. We have also allow you to search and access law
journals and other types of legal information sources such as legal subject oriented
A researcher who needs information about legislation, laws and regulations needs a good
understanding of the process used to create each type of law in order to find what he or she is
looking for. For this purpose, we provide links that will help you understand the legislative
and regulatory process, including links to how you research and create legislative histories.
= UIUC subscription
- Provides comprehensive legislative information and analysis. Most coverage begins in the 1989,
but some information, such as
Histories, is available from 1970 onwards. Please consult the
and Update Schedule from the Lexis-Nexis Congressional Help Page.
- A searchable and browseable compilation of full-text Congressional documents from 1817 to 1831,
with later years to be added. The Serial Set is an important source of primary documents on
American history and politics.
- Bills, public laws and legislation, complete government information, library of historical
documents; committee information, text of Congressional Record. Generally provides
information from 1990, with some records available back to 1978. Please consult
About Thomas for more information about
dates and databases.
- Links to Federal legislative, executive and judicial publications and websites with coverage
primarily from 1993.
- Access to the United States Code, the compilation of public laws currently in
- This is another source of federal laws and regulations
- A valuable resource with information about currently pending legislation.
- Site allows lawyers to post briefs and articles on legal issues and is searchable by
jurisdiction, subject matter, court, circuit, region, and filing type.
Code of Federal Regulations
- This is a useful but unofficial version of the CFR. It is updated continuously. It also
covers regulations as they appeared in prior years back to 1981.
- This is the official version of the CFR. Updates are done at regularly scheduled
intervals. It also covers regulations as they appeared in prior years back to
- Another source to search the CFR.
- Coverage of the Federal Register from 1980 to the present. \
- The official, daily publication reporting the regulatory actions of the executive branch. In
addition to notices of rules and proposed rules, executive orders and other presidential
documents. Online coverage begins in 1994.
- Online coverage to 1995.
- Online digitized copies of the print Federal Register from 1958 to 1980.
- A government site intended to help people find information about Federal, state and local
- A government site that bills itself as a one stop site to comment on proposed federal
Understanding the Legislative Process
- A description of federal legislative process, from the Library of Congress' Thomas
- The House of Representative's description of the legislative process.
- Ben's Guide is the Library of Congress' site for learners of all ages. This description
of the federal legislative process was created for high school age students and provides a clear,
concise, graphically oriented description of the process.
- This flow chart from ProQuest Congressional provides a quick review of the
- The terms used to describe the legislative are often unique. This helpful glossary may
help the researcher who comes across an unfamiliar terms.
- This tutorial and pathfinder, created by the law librarians at UIUC's School of Law, shows how
to research and create federal legislative histories.
- The University of Michigan's Graduate Library outlines a history of the Congressional Serial
Set with their site. They also include select digitized texts.
Understanding the Regulatory Process
- A clear and easy to understand description of the federal regulatory process from
- ProQuest Congressional has a this short description of the process.
- The publishers of the Federal Register, the National Archives and Record Administration, have
this useful site describing the Federal Register, what it contains, who may find it useful, and how
it is organized.
Judicial and Case Law Sources
- Lexis-Nexis is one the major legal publishers. Lexis/Nexis Academic provides access to
federal and state judicial opinions (case law), law review journals and other legal oriented
- This database provides free access to a wealth of judicial information, including limited
federal and state case law.
- The official Supreme Court website has information about the court and recent opinions.
Daily news and analysis covering cases before the U.S.
- The website for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. This site has extensive
information about the judicial branch of the federal government and links to federal courts at all
levels throughout the country.
- This extensive database provides full digitized access to over 370 current and historical law
reviews journals, often including every issue ever published of the particular journal. The
documents are in PDF format and appear as they did when they were published.
- Created by the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C., this site features an extensive
directory of free and commercial sites for legal research.