Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Online access to current United States Code provisions

Jessica R. Alexander, Reference Librarian

The official United States Code is published in its entirety ever six years, e.g., 2006, 2000, 1994, 1988…). These editions are commonly referred to as the 2000 Code, the 1994 Code, the 1988 Code, etc. In between these major issue dates, cumulative supplements are issued yearly containing new laws and amendments.

The Code is published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel and printed by the Government Printing Office (GPO). Sessions laws (Public Laws from a particular Congress, i.e. 110th are slotted into one of the 50 United States Code Titles.) The publication of the Code is complex. The intricacies of the process are described in detail at the website.


Bluebook Rule 12.2.1, requires if at all possible, citation to the publication date of the official code. The printed version runs years behind the designated publication date. In our library we have received all of the volumes of Supplement V of the 2000 version in paper. The 2006 volumes are yet to come.


PDF versions of the 2006 edition, published to date are available on the Download PDF Version of the Office of Law Revision Counsel website. Titles 1 through 9 are available. According to the Bluebook Rule 12.2.1, "...federal laws enacted after the most recent publication of the Code should be cited to an unofficial code until publication of the next edition of the United States Code. As of this date a writer can cite to the official codes Titles 1-9. The other 41 codes should be cited to an unofficial code such as United States Code Annotated and United States Code Service. These publications are up to date in our library.

Also see the GPO Access portal to official publications of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of the United States Government.

(A later post will contain information on the interplay between the Statutes at Large and the United States Code.)