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Statutes Research Guide: Start Here

Comparing laws on the same subject across many jurisdictions

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Getting Started

This guide is designed to help you understand and find statutes (codes or acts).  It is not meant to be comprehensive. For a complete guide of legislative materials, check out this Lewis & Clark guide to Legislative History. 

Statutes are laws enacted by legislatures, such as the US Congress.  Statutes are typically the place to begin research of primary legal sources.  Subject only to constitutional control, they authorize promulgation of administrative regulations and can overturn or modify court decisions that themselves are sometimes concerned with statutory interpretation. 

In the US, both the federal government and individual states have the power to pass statutes or laws. Some laws are handled exclusively by the federal government or Congress, while others are handled exclusively by the states.  Still other laws are the subject of both state and federal governance.

Other Research Guides


This LibGuide is based, with permission, on the Statutes: US and state codes LibGuide by Claire DeMarco at Harvard Law School Library. 

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