Lost Laws: What We Can’t Find in the United States Code
37 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2010
Date Written: March 1, 2010
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.
Keywords: U.S. Code, Statutes at Large, Legislation, Positive Law, Codification, Legal Research, Electronic Databases
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