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Federal Legislative History: Bluebook Citations

Bluebook Citation for Bills

In the 20th edition of The Bluebook, legislative materials are found in Rule 13.  A Bill is unenacted legislation. Often, you will need to include a parenthetical to indicate the date and stage of the bill especially if there are multiple versions of it in the same Congress.

Researching the legislative history of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the following information is found in the history of the statute:

Dec. 8, 2004, Pub.L. 108-447, Div. E, Title I, § 143(b), 118 Stat. 3071.

Using Pub. L. 108-447, locate the bill number using Westlaw, Lexis Advance, or Congressional (Proquest) (UH logins only). 

It is H.R. 4818, in the 108th Congress.  It passed on Dec. 8, 2004.  We would cite this using Rule 13.2(a) as:

H.R. 4818, 108th Cong. Div. E, Title I, § 143(b) (2004).

Bluebook Citation for Hearings


Generally, follow Rule 13.3 in the 20th ed. of The Bluebook, and look for ways to use abbreviations found in the Tables. 

For example, say we want to cite to testimony from a hearing on Exotic Bird Species and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act given by David H. Pardoe, Board Member of the National Audubon Society about the need to exclude mute swans from the MBTA.  Testimony was taken Dec. 16, 2003, in the House Committee on Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans.  Pardoe's statement is on pages 34-66.  The citation would be:

Exotic Bird Species and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Hearing on H.R. 4818 Before the Subcomm. on  Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans of the H. Comm. on Resources, 108th Cong. 34-66 (2003) (statement of David H. Pardoe, Bd. Member, Nat'l Audubon Soc'y).


Bluebook Citations for Committee Documents

Committee Reports

Generally, follow Rule 13.4 in the 20th ed. of The Bluebook.

For example, in Bills, we tracked Pub. L. 108-447.  On Nov. 20, 2004, House Report 108-792, a Conference Committee Report for H.R. 4818, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, was reported.  Division E, b mentions the amendment to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  We would cite this as:

H.R. Rep. No. 108-792, Div. E, b (2004) (Conf. Rep.).

Note here that online resources often will cite this as H. Rpt. 108-792.  The abbreviation is incorrect for a Bluebook citation.  Other information is also needed.

Committee Prints

Generally, follow Rule 13.4(c).

For example, the House Committee on the Budget had its staff prepare an Appropriations Update, Vol. 4, No. 9: Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for FY2005--H.R. 4818.  This document was written by Tiffany R. Blair.  We would cite this as:

Staff of H. Comm. on the Budget, 108th Cong., Appropriations Update, Vol. 4, No. 9: Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for FY2005-H.R. 4818 (Comm. Print 2004 by Tiffany R. Blair).

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).