Allow me to wax poetic on the Statutes at Large, my most favorite of all legislative history resources. Once you’ve found your public law number, get thee to the Statutes at Large to find the parallel citation and GOODIES! Don’t believe me? Let’s break it down, Perez Hilton style, with An Act to Improve the United States Code (Pub. L. 108-178).

Public laws have a parallel citation in the Statutes at Large. Be sure to note both, as well as the date, or the Bluebook Police will find you.

Unlike the U.S. Code, which is organized by topic into titles, the SAL are organized by date: a straight run through all of the laws passed, in the order that they were passed. The first number of the xxx-xxx citation corresponds with the Congress. After this law comes 108-179, 108-180, 108-181, etc. Over on the right hand side, you’ll notice the bill number, H.R. 1437. Look for bills on THOMAS (another tutorial for another post) or at FDsys (see link below); here’s H.R. 1437 for now. You’ll see Section 1 conveniently tells you the legislative intent of the act. Awesome! Also, as a short aside for folks interning on the Hill: when your Member tells you to look at x section of an Act, these are the section number they’re referring to, usually. You’re welcome.

Conveniently, SAL tells you where your act has been codified, and from time to time lists other related Pub. L. numbers. Even if it doesn’t, now you can go to the U.S. Code and check out the notes, amendments, etc.

Whoa! It’s all right there! The bill number, any hearings that might have been held, related Congressional reports and documents–House & Senate–and what volume and date to look for in the Congressional Record. Does it get any better? I think not, friends.

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