The CODE OF LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (variously
abbreviated to CODE OF LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES, UNITED STATES CODE,
U.S. CODE, or U.S.C.) is the official compilation and codification of
the general and permanent federal statutes of the
* 1 Codification
* 1.1 Process * 1.2 Legal status * 1.3 Uncodified statutes
* 2 Versions and history
* 2.1 Early compilations * 2.2 Official code * 2.3 Digital and Internet versions * 2.4 Annotated codes
* 3 Organization
* 3.1 Divisions * 3.2 Titles * 3.3 Proposed titles * 3.4 Treatment of repealed laws
* 4 Number and growth of criminalized actions * 5 Related codifications * 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 External links
The official text of an
Act of Congress is that of the "enrolled
bill" (traditionally printed on parchment ) presented to the President
for his signature or disapproval . Upon enactment of a law, the
original bill is delivered to the
Office of the Federal Register (OFR)
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). After
authorization from the OFR, copies are distributed as "slip laws " by
The _Statutes at Large_, however, is not a convenient tool for legal research. It is arranged strictly in chronological order so that statutes addressing related topics may be scattered across many volumes. Statutes often repeal or amend earlier laws, and extensive cross-referencing is required to determine what laws are in force at any given time.
Because of this codification approach, a single named statute (like the Taft–Hartley Act or the Embargo Act ) may or may not appear in a single place in the Code. Often, complex legislation bundles a series of provisions together as a means of addressing a social or governmental problem; those provisions often fall in different logical areas of the Code. For example, an Act providing relief for family farms might affect items in Title 7 (Agriculture), Title 26 (Tax), and Title 43 (Public Lands ). When the Act is codified, its various provisions might well be placed in different parts of those various Titles. Traces of this process are generally found in the Notes accompanying the "lead section" associated with the popular name, and in cross-reference tables that identify Code sections corresponding to particular Acts of Congress.
Usually, the individual sections of a statute are incorporated into the Code exactly as enacted; however, sometimes editorial changes are made by the LRC (for instance, the phrase "the date of enactment of this Act" is replaced by the actual date). Though authorized by statute, these changes do not constitute positive law .
The authority for the material in the
By law, those titles of the
In contrast, if Congress enacts a particular title (or other component) of the Code into positive law, the enactment repeals all of the previous Acts of Congress from which that title of the Code derives; in their place, Congress gives the title of the Code itself the force of law. This process makes that title of the United States Code "legal evidence" of the law in force. Where a title has been enacted into positive law, a court may neither permit nor require proof of the underlying original Acts of Congress.
The distinction between enacted and unenacted titles is largely
academic because the Code is nearly always accurate. The United States
Code is routinely cited by the Supreme Court and other federal courts
without mentioning this theoretical caveat. On a day-to-day basis,
very few lawyers cross-reference the Code to the _Statutes at Large_.
Attempting to capitalize on the possibility that the text of the
Only "general and permanent" laws are codified in the United States Code; the Code does not usually include provisions that apply only to a limited number of people (a private law ) or for a limited time, such as most appropriation acts or budget laws, which apply only for a single fiscal year . If these limited provisions are significant, however, they may be printed as "notes" underneath related sections of the Code. The codification is based on the content of the laws, however, not the vehicle by which they are adopted; so, for instance, if an appropriations act contains substantive, permanent provisions (as is sometimes the case), these provisions will be incorporated into the Code even though they were adopted as part of a non-permanent enactment.
VERSIONS AND HISTORY
Early efforts at codifying the Acts of Congress were undertaken by
private publishers; these were useful shortcuts for research purposes,
but had no official status. Congress undertook an official
codification called the _Revised Statutes of the
According to the preface to the Code, "From 1897 to 1907 a commission
was engaged in an effort to codify the great mass of accumulating
legislation. The work of the commission involved an expenditure of
over $300,000, but was never carried to completion." Only the Criminal
Code of 1909 and the
Judicial Code of 1911 were enacted. In the
absence of a comprehensive official code, private publishers once
again collected the more recent statutes into unofficial codes. The
first edition of the _
During the 1920s, some members of Congress revived the codification
project, resulting in the approval of the
The official version of the Code is published by the LRC as a series of paper volumes. The first edition of the Code was contained in a single bound volume; today, it spans several large volumes. Normally, a new edition of the Code is issued every six years, with annual cumulative supplements identifying the changes made by Congress since the last "main edition" was published.
DIGITAL AND INTERNET VERSIONS
Both the LRC and the GPO offer electronic versions of the Code to the
public. The LRC electronic version used to be as much as 18 months
behind current legislation, but as of 2014 it is one of the most
current versions available online. The
Practicing lawyers who can afford them almost always use an annotated
version of the U.S. Code from a private company. The two leading
annotated versions are the _
The Code is divided into 53 titles (listed below), which deal with broad, logically organized areas of legislation. Titles may optionally be divided into subtitles, parts, subparts, chapters, and subchapters. All titles have sections (represented by a § ), as their basic coherent units, and sections are numbered sequentially across the entire title without regard to the previously-mentioned divisions of titles. Sections are often divided into (from largest to smallest) subsections, paragraphs, subparagraphs, clauses, subclauses, items, and subitems. Congress, by convention, names a particular subdivision of a section according to its largest element. For example, "subsection (c)(3)(B)(iv)" is not a subsection but a clause, namely clause (iv) of subparagraph (B) of paragraph (3) of subsection (c); if the identity of the subsection and paragraph were clear from the context, one would refer to the clause as "subparagraph (B)(iv)".
Not all titles use the same series of subdivisions above the section level, and they may arrange them in different order. For example, in Title 26 (the tax code), the order of subdivision runs:
The "Section" division is the core organizational component of the Code, and the "Title" division is always the largest division of the Code. Which intermediate levels between Title and Section appear, if any, varies from Title to Title. For example, Title 38 (Veteran's Benefits) the order runs Title – Part – Chapter – Subchapter – Section.
The word "title" in this context is roughly akin to a printed "volume," although many of the larger titles span multiple volumes. Similarly, no particular size or length is associated with other subdivisions; a section might run several pages in print, or just a sentence or two. Some subdivisions within particular titles acquire meaning of their own; for example, it is common for lawyers to refer to a " Chapter 11 bankruptcy " or a "Subchapter S corporation " (often shortened to " S corporation ").
According to one legal style manual, a sample citation would be
Privacy Act of 1974 , 5 U.S.C.
§ 552a (2006)", read aloud as "Title
Titles that have been enacted into positive law are indicated by blue shading below. Titles whose laws have been repealed are indicated by red shading below.
Title 1 General Provisions
Title 2 The Congress
Title 3 The President
Title 4 Flag and Seal , Seat of Government , and the States
Title 5 Government Organization and Employees *
Title 6 (original) Surety Bonds (_repealed_) (Enacted into positive law by the 80th Congress in 1947; combined into Title 31 when it was enacted into positive law.)
Title 6 Domestic Security
Title 8 Aliens and Nationality
Title 10 Armed Forces (including the Uniform Code of Military Justice )
Title 11 Bankruptcy
Title 12 Banks and Banking
Title 14 Coast Guard
Title 15 Commerce and Trade
Title 16 Conservation
Title 17 Copyrights
Title 18 Crimes and Criminal Procedure *
Title 20 Education
Title 21 Food and Drugs
Title 22 Foreign Relations and Intercourse
Title 23 Highways
Title 24 Hospitals and Asylums
Title 25 Indians
Title 26 Internal Revenue Code
Title 27 Intoxicating Liquors
Title 29 Labor
Mineral Lands and
Title 31 Money and Finance
Title 32 National Guard
Title 33 Navigation and Navigable Waters
Title 34 Navy (_repealed_ all of Title 34 in 1956 when Navy was moved into Title 10 subtitle C)
Title 35 Patents
Title 36 Patriotic Societies and Observances
Title 37 Pay and Allowances of the Uniformed Services
Title 38 Veterans\' Benefits
Title 39 Postal Service
Title 40 Public Buildings, Properties, and Works
Title 41 Public Contracts
Title 42 The Public Health and Welfare
Title 43 Public Lands
Title 45 Railroads
Title 46 Shipping
Title 47 Telecommunications
Title 48 Territories and Insular Possessions
Title 49 Transportation (enacted into positive law in stages; Title IV in 1978, Title I in 1983, and Titles II, III, and V-X in 1994)
Title 50 War and National Defense
Title 51 National and Commercial Space Programs
Title 52 Voting and Elections
Title 54 National Park Service and Related Programs
Note: The OLRC has produced a draft version of the codification of Title 35 (subtitles III and IV).
* Includes Appendix of provisions not yet enacted into positive law.
The Office of Law Revision Counsel has produced draft text for three additional titles of federal law. The subject matters of these proposed titles exists today in one or several existing titles.
Title 53 Small Business
Title 55 Environment
Title 56 Wildlife
The OLRC announced an "editorial reclassification" of the federal laws governing voting and elections that went into effect on September 1, 2014. This reclassification involved moving various laws previously classified in Titles 2 and 42 into a new Title 52 , which has not been enacted into positive law.
TREATMENT OF REPEALED LAWS
When sections are repealed, their text is deleted and replaced by a note summarizing what used to be there. This is so that lawyers reading old cases can understand what the cases are talking about. As a result, some portions of the Code consist entirely of empty chapters full of historical notes. For example, Title 8, Chapter 7 is labeled "Exclusion of Chinese." This contains historical notes relating to the Chinese Exclusion Act , which is no longer in effect.
NUMBER AND GROWTH OF CRIMINALIZED ACTIONS
There are conflicting opinions on the number of federal crimes, but
many have argued that there has been explosive growth and it has
become overwhelming. In 1982, the U.S. Justice Department could not
come up with a number, but estimated 3,000 crimes in the United States
Code. In 1998, the
American Bar Association (ABA) said that it was
likely much higher than 3,000, but didn't give a specific estimate.
In 2008, the Heritage Foundation published a report that put the
number at a minimum of 4,450. When staff for a task force of the U.S.
The U.S. Code generally contains only those Acts of Congress, or statutes, designated as public laws. The Code itself does not include Executive Orders or other executive-branch documents related to the statutes, or rules promulgated by the courts. However, such related material is sometimes contained in notes to relevant statutory sections or in appendices. The U.S. Code does not include statutes designated at enactment as private laws, nor statutes that are considered temporary in nature, such as appropriations. These laws are included in the _ Statutes at Large _ for the year of enactment.
Regulations promulgated by executive agencies through the rulemaking
process set out in the Administrative Procedure Act are published
chronologically in the _
* ^ Title 1 of the Code as published by the Office of the Law
* ^ Public Law No: 113-287, Enacted title 54,
_ Wikisource has original