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United States Code: Home

A guide to using the United States Code and its various versions for law students, recent graduates, and members of the public.

Overview

The United States Code (USC) is a topical arrangement of all the federal statutes of the United States. When a bill becomes law, it is first published as a slip law and in the annual Statutes at Large. It is then divided into parts (if necessary) and codified under the appropriate titles of the USC, to make it easier to locate. A single law may end up in several different sections of the USC (sometimes even different parts, chapters, or titles), depending on the topical contents of the various pieces of the law.

There are several ways to look at the USC. The Office of the Law Revision Counsel published an official print set that contains nothing but the statutes themselves.

Digital versions are available from several sources online, including the Government Printing Office’s FDsys and Cornell’s Legal Information Institute.

Additionally, both Thomson West and LexisNexis publish annotated versions of the USC that contain proprietary additions to the statutes, such as headnotes and Key Numbers. The Thomson West version is called United States Code Annotated, and the LexisNexis version is called United States Code Service. Both versions are available electronically, through WestlawNext and Lexis Advance, respectively.

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Choosing Between USCA and USCS

One key difference between these two versions of the US Code is the source of the language itself. USCS uses the language provided in the Statutes at Large, whereas USCA uses the language from the official US Code. Typically, these should be the same, but on rare occasions it is discovered that slight changes occurred during the codification process. Generally, when the language is inconsistent, courts have held that the language in the Statutes at Large is controlling.

There are additional differences, as well:

U.S.C.A. seeks to be comprehensive in its case annotations, including every relevant case that discusses the statute, while U.S.C.S. includes only selected cases in its annotations.

While both sets include references to related administrative regulations, only U.S.C.S. includes references to cases decided by administrative law courts (U.S.C.A. does not).

While both sets include references to law journal articles, ALR annotations, and AmJur articles, there are differences in the coverage of secondary source materials in the annotations.Since U.S.C.A. is published by West publishing, you will find references to print treatises published by West publishing, but not to those published by Lexis publishing.Additionally, C.J.S. is included only in U.S.C.A.Likewise, since U.S.C.S. is published by Lexis, it will contain references to print treatises published by Lexis but not those published by West.

Since it is published by West, U.S.C.A. has references to the West Topic and Key Number system, while U.S.C.S. does not.

(additional differences from http://lawlibguides.luc.edu/content.php?pid=128348&sid=1101468, pscott2@luc.edu)

Updating

Both USCA and USCS use annual pocket parts to update each volume, and both occasionally publish softbound volumes during the year to update the pocket parts. The official US Code is updated with a bound supplement each year.

USCA: Within the pocket parts, use the table called "U.S. Code Sections Amended, Repealed, New, Etc." The table will provide a citation to the public law number that affected each changed section of the Code, and you can look up that law to see how the section was affected.

USCS: Each Advance pamphlet contains a table called "Table of Code Sections Added, Amended, Repealed, or Otherwise Affected," which can be used to check whether a particular section has been changed. These pamphlets are compiled annually in the Cumulative Later Case and Statutory Service.

You should always ensure you check online sources, as well, since print materials are typically slower to update than digital sources. If you don’t have access to WestlawNext or Lexis Advance, you can look at Congress.gov.

Contents

Each of the 50 titles in the USC contains law on a particular topic. Note that there is no Title 34, which dealt with the United States Navy prior to 1956. Additionally, Title 6 used to deal with surety bonds. Those provisions were repealed or moved to Title 31 in 1972 and 1982, and the new Title 6 was first introduced in the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

Title 1: General Provisions

Title 2: The Congress

Title 3: The President

Title 4: Flag and Seal, Seat of Government, and the States

Title 5: Government Organization and Employees

Title 6: Domestic Security

Title 7: Agriculture

Title 8: Aliens and Nationality

Title 9: Arbitration

Title 10: Armed Forces

Title 11: Bankruptcy

Title 12: Banks and Banking

Title 13: Census

Title 14: Coast Guard

Title 15: Commerce and Trade

Title 16: Conservation

Title 17: Copyrights

Title 18: Crimes and Criminal Procedure

Title 19: Customs Duties

Title 20: Education

Title 21: Food and Drugs

Title 22: Foreign Relations and Intercourse

Title 23: Highways

Title 24: Hospitals and Asylums

Title 25: Indians

Title 26: Internal Revenue Code

Title 27: Intoxicating Liquors

Title 28: Judiciary and Judicial Procedure

Title 29: Labor

Title 30: Mineral Lands and Mining

Title 31: Money and Finance

Title 32: National Guard

Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters

Title 35: Patents

Title 36: Patriotic and National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations

Title 37: Pay and Allowances of the Uniformed Services

Title 38: Veterans Benefits

Title 39: Postal Service

Title 40: Public Buildings, Property, and Works

Title 41: Public Contracts

Title 42: The Public Health and Welfare

Title 43: Public Lands

Title 44: Public Printing and Documents

Title 45: Railroads

Title 46: Shipping

Title 47: Telegraphs, Telephones, and Radiotelegraphs

Title 48: Territories and Insular Possessions

Title 49: Transportation

Title 50: War and National Defense

Title 51: National and Commercial Space Programs