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Summer Associate Research Guide: Research Constitutions and Statutes in Print

Introduction

Instructional Videos

These videos provide important background on researching federal statutes. Mouse over each link for a fuller decription of its contents.

Constitutions

A.  FEDERAL

The official text of the Constitution of the United States is reprinted in The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, published by the United States Government Printing Office. It includes historical and interpretative comments, combined with references to court cases interpreting the provisions of the Constitution. (Such references are known as “annotations.”)

Copies of the Constitution are also reprinted in the first volumes of the United States Code Annotated and the United States Code Service. These services also include references to court decisions that have interpreted provisions of the Constitution, and are updated by pocket parts or cumulative supplements. The first volume of the United States Code also contains the text of the Constitution without annotations.

B.  STATE

Each state has its own constitution. Most states reprint their constitution in the first volume of the statute set for that state, usually with annotations to court cases interpreting the constitutional provisions.

Illinois’ constitution can be found in the first volume of the Illinois Compiled Statutes. Annotated versions of the Illinois constitution, including references to cases and law journals, are included in the first volume of Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated, and in two volumes at the end of West’s Smith-Hurd Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated.

Statutes

A.  FEDERAL

Federal statutes are printed officially by the government in the United States Code. Two commercial publishers print the federal statutes in the United States Code Annotated (“USCA”), and United States Code Service (“USCS”). The text of the statutes are the same in all three resources. The benefit of the latter two is that they include references to court cases that have interpreted the statute, and cross references to other sources dealing with the same subject. They are also updated much more frequently than the official version.

The statutes are arranged by title and section numbers. For example, if you have the cite “42 U.S.C. §211,” this means that you will find the text of the statute at title 42, section 211 in each of the United States Code, USCA, or USCS. The titles are arranged numerically within the volumes of each set.

There are two primary ways to find a statute:

  • By subject – The last volume (or several volumes) of each set contains a detailed subject index to the statutes. The relevant subject heading will refer you to the title and section of the code that covers your specific topic.
  • By popular name – If you know the popular name of a law (such as, for example, The Freedom of Information Act) all three sources have alphabetical indexes of statutes by their popular name. Shepard’s Acts and Cases by Popular Name, Federal and State, is another index by popular name.

Laws passed within the current year may not appear in any of the sources already mentioned. For the most recent laws, consult one of the following resources: USCA– Statutory Supplements, at the end of the USCA set, or USCS – Advance Service, at the end of the USCS set. United States Code Congressional and Administrative News also publishes laws in the order in which Congress passes them each year. Each of them contains a list of laws by name in the front of each volume, and a subject index at the back.

B.  STATE

State statutes are published in sets similar to federal laws. In Illinois, these laws are arranged by Chapter, Act and Section Numbers in the official state publication, the Illinois Compiled Statutes, which is published every other year by the Illinois State Bar Association under the auspices of the Illinois Legislature. As is the case with the federal statutes, there are also two commercial publishers who print annotated versions of the Illinois Compiled Statutes: the Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated, by Lexis Publishing, and West’s Smith-Hurd Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated, by West Publishing. And again, as is the case with the federal statutes, the text of, and the citation to, the actual text of the statutes is the same in all three resources. The benefit of the latter two sets is that they include annotations and cross references to other sources. Also, they are updated with pocket parts and supplements much more frequently than the official version.

All three versions are arranged by subject, with chapters and acts arranged numerically under nine unnumbered topic headings. The numbering arrangement is designed to provide each statute with a unique and unambiguous identifier. A complete citation contains a chapter, act and section identifier. The citation “755 ILCS 5/1–1,” for example, refers to Chapter 755 (Estates), Act 5 (Probate Act of 1975), Section 5/1–1.  Again, as is the case with the federal statutes, all three sets conform in their numbering system, so that a citation to one is always a citation to the others.

As is the case with the federal statutes, the primary way to find a statute is by subject – the last several volumes of each set contain a detailed alphabetical subject index to the statutes. The relevant subject heading will refer you to the ILCS chapter, act and section which covers your specific topic. In addition, the West’s Smith–Hurd version does contain a popular name index in the last volume of the index, and Shepard’s Acts and Cases by Popular Name, Federal and State, does include Illinois citations.

If you need to compare laws from various states on the same subject, there are several helpful sources. A five volume set titled, Subject Compilations of State Laws, lists articles and books comparing the laws of various states. Shepard’s Acts and Cases by Popular Name, Federal and State, allows access to laws in all states with the same popular name.  The last volumes of the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory contains short summaries of the laws of all fifty states, as well as selected foreign countries. Uniform Laws Annotated provides state-by-state citations to the various uniform laws (such as the Uniform Commercial Code) promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, as adopted by various jurisdictions.

Updating Federal/ State Statutes in Print

It is actually pretty easy to update statutes in print. However, you should use the annotated unofficial version to update the statutes in print because they are kept current with frequent supplements. Check the following table to determine which statute set you should use and where it is located in the Loyola Law Library.

 

Source

Cite

Location

Check First

Check Second

Check Third

Check Fourth

Federal (official)

United States Code

U.S.C.

4th floor KF 62

.A1

Main volume (every 6 years)

Annual bound supplements (cumulative)

N/A

N/A

Federal (unoffic.)

United States Code

Annotated

U.S.C.A.

3rd floor 4th floor

KF 62

.W 4

Main volume

Pocket Part/Cum. Supp.

Quarterly

Pamphlets (Update

pamphlets, by code section)

USSCAN

(monthly advance sheets, code tables)

Federal (unoffic.)

United States Code Service

U.S.C.S.

3rd floor KF 62

1972 .L38

Main volume

Pocket parts

Quarterly supplements (Cum. Later Case & Statutory

Supplement, by Code section)

Monthly advance sheets, code tables

Illinois (official)

Illinois

Compiled Statutes (ILCS)

Ill. Comp.

Stat.

3rd floor KFI 1230

1996

.A44

Main volume (every 2 years)

Annual supplement

N/A

N/A

Illinois (unofficia)

West's Smith- Hurd Illinois compiled statutes annotated.

Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann.

3rd floor KFI 1230

1993 .A4

Main volume

Pocket parts

Interim Annotation Service (update pamphlets, by code section)

Illinois Legislative Service

(code tables)

Illinois (unofficia)

Illinois

Compiled Statutes

Annotated (Lexis)

Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann.

3rd floor KFI 1230

1993

.A42

Main volume

Pocket parts

Advance Code Service (update pamphlets, by code section)

Advance Legislative Service

Pamphlet

(code tables)

 

Subject Guide