ListMoto - United States Code

--- Advertisement ---


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 United States
United States
. It contains 53 titles (1-54, 34 was repealed). The main edition is published every six years by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the House of Representatives , and cumulative supplements are published annually. The official version of those laws not codified in the United States
United States
Code can be found in United States
United States
Statutes at Large .


* 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* 3.1 Divisions * 3.2 Titles * 3.3 Proposed titles * 3.4 Treatment of repealed laws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) within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). After authorization from the OFR, copies are distributed as "slip laws " by the Government Printing
Office (GPO). The Archivist assembles annual volumes of the enacted laws and publishes them as the _United States Statutes at Large ._ By law, the text of the _Statutes at Large_ is "legal evidence" of the laws enacted by Congress. Slip laws are also competent evidence.

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.

The United States
United States
Code is the result of an effort to make finding relevant and effective statutes simpler by reorganizing them by subject matter, and eliminating expired and amended sections. The Code is maintained by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel (LRC) of the U.S. House of Representatives. The LRC determines which statutes in the United States
United States
Statutes at Large should be codified, and which existing statutes are affected by amendments or repeals, or have simply expired by their own terms. The LRC updates the Code accordingly.

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 United States
United States
Code comes from its enactment through the legislative process and not from its presentation in the Code. For example, the United States
United States
Code omitted 12 U.S.C. § 92 for decades, apparently because it was thought to have been repealed. In its 1993 ruling in _U.S. National Bank of Oregon v. Independent Insurance Agents of America_, the Supreme Court ruled that § 92 was still valid law.

By law, those titles of the United States
United States
Code that have not been enacted into positive law are "_prima facie _ evidence" of the law in effect. The _ United States
United States
Statutes at Large _ remains the ultimate authority. If a dispute arises as to the accuracy or completeness of the codification of an unenacted title, the courts will turn to the language in the United States
United States
Statutes at Large. In case of a conflict between the text of the Statutes at Large and the text of a provision of the United States
United States
Code that has not been enacted as positive law, the text of the Statutes at Large takes precedence.

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 United States
United States
Code can differ from the _ United States
United States
Statutes at Large_, Bancroft-Whitney for many years published a series of volumes known as United States
United States
Code Service (USCS), which used the actual text of the _ United States
United States
Statutes at Large_.


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.



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 United States
United States
_ approved June 22, 1874, for the laws in effect as of December 1, 1873. Congress re-enacted a corrected version in 1878. The Revised Statutes were enacted as positive law, but subsequent enactments were not incorporated into the official code, so that over time researchers once again had to delve through many volumes of the _Statutes at Large _.

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 _ United States
United States
Code_ (published as Statutes at Large Volume 44, Part 1) includes cross-reference tables between the U.S.C. and two of these unofficial codes, _ United States
United States
Compiled Statutes Annotated_ by West Publishing Co. and _Federal Statutes Annotated_ by Edward Thompson Co.


During the 1920s, some members of Congress revived the codification project, resulting in the approval of the United States
United States
Code by Congress in 1926.

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.


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 United States
United States
Code is available from the LRC at uscode.house.gov in both HTML and XML bulk formats. The " United States
United States
Legislative Markup" (USLM) schema of the XML was designed to be consistent with the Akoma Ntoso project (from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs ) XML schema, and the OASIS _LegalDocML_ technical committee standard will be based upon Akoma Ntoso.

A number of other online versions are freely available, such as Cornell
's Legal Information Institute .


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 _ United States
United States
Code Annotated_, abbreviated as U.S.C.A., and the _ United States
United States
Code Service_, abbreviated as U.S.C.S. The U.S.C.A. is published by West (part of Thomson Reuters ), and U.S.C.S. is published by LexisNexis (part of Reed Elsevier ), which purchased the publication from the Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Co. in 1997 as a result of an antitrust settlement. These annotated versions contain notes following each section of the law, which organize and summarize court decisions, law review articles, and other authorities that pertain to the code section, and may also include uncodified provisions that are part of the Public Laws. The publishers of these versions frequently issue supplements that contain newly enacted laws, which may not yet have appeared in an official published version of the Code, as well as updated secondary materials such as new court decisions on the subject. When an attorney is viewing an annotated code on an online service, such as Westlaw or LexisNexis, all the citations in the annotations are hyperlinked to the referenced court opinions and other documents.



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:

* Title

* Subtitle

* Chapter

* Subchapter

* Part

* Subpart

* Section

* Subsection

* Paragraph

* Subparagraph

* Clause

* Subclause

* Item

* Subitem

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 five, United States
United States
Code, section five fifty-two A" or simply "five USC five fifty-two A."


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 7 Agriculture

Title 8 Aliens and Nationality

Title 9 Arbitration

Title 10 Armed Forces (including the Uniform Code of Military Justice )

Title 11 Bankruptcy

Title 12 Banks and Banking

Title 13 Census

Title 14 Coast Guard

Title 15 Commerce and Trade

Title 16 Conservation

Title 17 Copyrights

Title 18 Crimes and Criminal Procedure *

Title 19 Customs

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 28 Judiciary
and Judicial Procedure

Title 29 Labor

Title 30 Mineral Lands and Mining

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 44 Public Printing
and Documents

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.


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.


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. House Judiciary
Committee asked the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to update its 2008 calculation of criminal offenses in the U.S.C. in 2013, the CRS responded that they lack the manpower and resources to accomplish the task.


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 _ Federal Register
Federal Register
_ and then codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). Similarly, state statutes and regulations are often codified into state-specific codes.


* List of U.S. state legal codes * United States
United States


* ^ Title 1 of the Code as published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel * ^ Public Law No: 113-287, Enacted title 54, United States
United States
Code, "National Park Service and Related Programs", as positive law. * ^ Title 34 _(Navy)_ was repealed, but the numbering system was retained. See USC Table of Contents. * ^ _A_ _B_ United States
United States
Code * ^ _A_ _B_ About United States
United States
Code. Gpo.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-19. * ^ _Public and Private Laws: About_, United States
United States
Government Printing
Office , After the President signs a bill into law, it is delivered to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) … * ^ _Public and Private Laws: About_, United States
United States
Government Printing
Office , Public and private laws are prepared and published by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) … The database for the current session of Congress is updated when the publication of a slip law is authorized by OFR. * ^ 1 U.S.C. § 112 * ^ 1 U.S.C. § 113 * ^ _U.S. National Bank of Oregon v. Independent Insurance Agents of America, Inc._, 508 U.S. 439, 440 (1993). * ^ See 1 U.S.C. § 204. * ^ " whenever titles of such Code shall have been enacted into positive law the text thereof shall be legal evidence of the laws therein contained, in all the courts of the United States
United States
" 1 U.S.C. § 204. * ^ See, e.g., _ United States
United States
v. Zuger_, 602 F. Supp. 889, 891 (D. Conn. 1984) ("Where a title has, however, been enacted into positive law, the Code title itself is deemed to constitute conclusive evidence of the law; recourse to other sources is unnecessary and precluded.") * ^ For example, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2006 , Pub.L. 109–148, 119 Stat. 2680 (2005)—a time-specific appropriations act that the President signed into law on December 30, 2005—contains in its Division A, Title X the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 ("DTA"). The DTA set out, among other things, permanent provisions governing standards for interrogation of persons in Defense Department custody, prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment, and procedures for status review of extraterritorial detainees. _See id._ at div. A, tit. X, § § 1001–1006, 119 Stat. 2739–44. Notably, DTA section 1002 was printed as a note to 10 U.S.C. § 801; DTA section 1003 was codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000dd (though the section has not yet been enacted into positive law); and DTA section 1005(e)(1) codified a new subsection (e) of 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (which became positive law upon the DTA's enactment). Congress also enacted a nearly identical version of the DTA as a component of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 , _see_ Pub.L. 109–163, div. A, tit. XIV, § § 1401–1406, 119 Stat. 3136, 3474–80 (2006)—an authorization act that the President signed into law on January 6, 2006 (a week after he signed the original DTA into law). The December 2005 and January 2006 versions of the DTA are generally identical except for certain provisions in the section relating to training of Iraqi security forces (section 1006 of the Dec. '05 DTA and section 1406 of the Jan. '06 DTA). As a result, both the Dec. '05 and Jan. '06 DTAs appear to have made essentially simultaneous and duplicative amendments to the Code and its notes. _But see_ the legislative history notes under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (to the effect that two subsection (e)s of that statutory section have apparently been enacted). As of 8 August 2017, there has been no litigation challenging the validity of either of the DTA statutes on these grounds. * ^ Pub.L. 69–440, 44 Stat. 777, enacted June 30, 1926; Pub.L. 69–441, 44 Stat. 778, enacted June 30, 1926 * ^ Howard, Alexander B. (July 30, 2013). "U.S. House of Representatives publishes U.S. Code as open government data". _e-pluribusunum.com_. Retrieved August 21, 2013. * ^ Schuman, Daniel (November 13, 2012). "Testers wanted: Beta Website for US Code Now Online". Sunlight Foundation . Retrieved August 21, 2013. * ^ " United States
United States
Legislative Markup: User Guide for the USLM Schema" (PDF). Office of the Law Revision Counsel . July 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2013. * ^ Gheen, Tina (April 23, 2012). "OASIS Puts Akoma Ntoso on the Standards Track". Library of Congress
Library of Congress
. * ^ Final Judgment : U.S. et al. v. The Thomson Corporation
and West Publishing Company. Usdoj.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-19. * ^ Bellis MD. (2008). Statutory Structure and Legislative Drafting Conventions: A Primer for Judges. Federal Judicial Center. * ^ The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation 102 (Columbia Law Review Ass'n et al. eds., 18th ed. 2005) * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Fields, Gary; Emshwiller, John R. (July 23, 2011). "Many Failed Efforts to Count Nation\'s Federal Criminal Laws". _The Wall Street Journal _. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Baker, John S. (June 16, 2008), _Revisiting the Explosive Growth of Federal Crimes_, The Heritage Foundation * ^ Fields, Gary; Emshwiller, John R. (July 23, 2011). "As Criminal Laws Proliferate, More Are Ensnared". _ The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
_. * ^ Neil, Martha (June 14, 2013). "ABA leader calls for streamlining of \'overwhelming\' and \'often ineffective\' federal criminal law". _ ABA Journal _. * ^ Savage, David G. (January 1, 1999). "Rehnquist Urges Shorter List of Federal Crimes". _ Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
_. * ^ Weiss, Debra Cassens (July 25, 2011). "Federal Laws Multiply: Jail Time for Misappropriating Smokey Bear Image?". _ ABA Journal _. * ^ Ruger, Todd (June 14, 2013), "Way Too Many Criminal Laws, Lawyers Tell Congress", _Blog of Legal Times _, ALM


_ Wikisource has original