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Federal Legislative History: Public Laws, U.S. Code (Ref. # 8, 9)

Bluebook Citation for Public Laws, Statutes at Large

Public Laws

Public Laws are statutes.  Generally, follow Rule 12.4 of the 20th ed. of The Bluebook. Abbreviated:  Pub. L. No.

Statutes at Large

The Statutes at Large are the Session Laws of the U.S. Congress.  Session laws are uncodified laws that gather the Public Laws of a session of Congress together.  Statutes at Large is arranged chronologically. Generally, follow Rule 12.4 of the 19th ed. of The Bluebook.  Abbreviated:  Stat.

When a specific act was passed as a subdivision (such as one title or one section) of a broader statute, the session law citation of the specific act should list the subdivision of broad statute in which the specific act is found, but should treat the first page of that subdivision as the page on which the act begins. A pincite to a section of the specific act should both include the subdivision reference to the specific act as a whole and the exact section number in question. Both of the following examples are correctSee Violence Against Women Act, Pub. L. No. 103-322, tit. IV, 108 Stat. 1902 (1994) (codified as amended in scattered sections of 8, 16, 18, 28, and 42 U.S.C.). See Violence Against Women Act, Pub. L. No. 103-322, tit. IV, § 40302, 108 Stat. 1902, 1941–42 (1994) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 13981 (2000)), invalidated by United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000).



Public Laws, Statutes at Large, U.S. Code

Flowchart reference numbers 8 and 9.

A public law is a legislative proposal agreed to in identical form by both Chambers. It is sometimes called a "slip law."  If you have the Public Law number you can find the bill number located in the margin at the beginning of the act.  Public laws are sequentially numbered and prefixed by the Congress in which the law was enacted (e.g. P.L. 113-5 is the fifth law of the 113th Congress). The current system for numbering public laws was adopted in 1957 (85th Congress).   

The Statutes at Large is a collection of all  the public laws and resolutions passed by a Congress. The public laws retain their P.L. numbers in the Statutes at Large but have a volume and page number to this publication. Since 1975 the Statutes At Large gives brief legislative history references on the final page to each U.S. public law, including bill numbers, committee report numbers and dates of floor consideration or passage.