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Lost Laws: What We Can’t Find in the United States Code


Will Tress


University of Baltimore - School of Law

March 1, 2010

Golden Gate University Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 129-164, Winter 2010
University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper, No. 2010-14

Abstract:     
The United States Code is the official and essential source for federal statutory law research. For many researchers it is the only place they look. On close examination, however, the Code has shortcomings: problems with drafting relegate some laws to notes and appendices; other valid and current laws are considered temporary and are left out of the Code entirely; the authority of the language in the Code varies from Title to Title, depending on whether a Title has been specially enacted into “positive law.” “Lost Laws: What We Can’t Find in the United States Code” traces the development of this complex, multi-layered document, and looks at its problematic structure and restricted content in the context of that history. The article proposes steps to resolve some of the difficulties with the current Code, and to begin building a new electronic version of the Code that meets popular expectations and the needs of researchers.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

Keywords: U.S. Code, Statutes at Large, Legislation, Positive Law, Codification, Legal Research, Electronic Databases

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Date posted: October 14, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Tress, Will, Lost Laws: What We Can’t Find in the United States Code (March 1, 2010). Golden Gate University Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 129-164, Winter 2010; University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper, No. 2010-14. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1615451

Contact Information

Will Tress (Contact Author)
University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )
1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States
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