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Legal Research for UNT Students

Resources for students new to legal research

What are Statutes?

Statutes are laws passed by a legislature. In the United States, federal statutes, also known as acts, are laws enacted by Congress. Federal statutes begin as bills. Once a bill is approved by the U.S House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the President, the bill becomes a law.

 When a federal law is enacted by Congress, it is published in three different formats:

  • First, every law passed by Congress is assigned a public law number. Each public law is published in a separate booklet or pamphlet known as a slip law.
  • Second, all slip laws for a session of Congress are compiled in chronological order and published in the United States Statutes at Large.  These laws are referred to as session laws because they are organized according to which session of Congress the law was enacted.
  • Finally, the statutes are organized by subject, indexed and published under a specific title in the United States Code (cited as U.S.C.). The USC is arranged into 50 titles, or subjects, and is reissued every six years (the USC is updated annually with supplements).

The Legislative Process



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