Legislative, Regulatory, and Judicial Law Resources

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 occasions.

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 newspapers.

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.

Illinois = UIUC subscription

Legislation Sources

Provides comprehensive legislative information and analysis. Most coverage begins in the 1989, but some information, such as CIS Legislative Histories, is available from 1984 onwards.  Please consult the Coverage and Update Schedule from this ProQuest Congressional page.
A searchable and browsable 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.
Congress.gov from the Library of Congress contains legislation from 1973 to the present, the Congressional Record and committee reports since 1995, and member profiles from the 93rd Congress (1973) to the present, and some member profiles from the 80th through the 92nd Congresses (1947 to 1972) Congress.gov will totally replace THOMAS by the end of 2014. Consult the Congress.gov About page for more information about what is and is not included in Congress.gov.
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. Congress.gov will replace THOMAS by the end of 2014.
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 effect.
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.

Regulatory Sources

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 1996.
Another source to search the CFR.

Federal Register

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.

Related Sites:

A government site intended to help people find information about Federal, state and local regulations.
A government site that bills itself as a one stop site to comment on proposed federal regulations.

Understanding the Legislative Process

A description of federal legislative process, from the Library of Congress’ Thomas site.
A description of federal legislative process, from the Library of Congress’ Congress.gov site.
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.
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 About.com.
Regulations.gov has a timeline 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 information.
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. Supreme Court.
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.