The U.S. Code contains the currently in-force federal laws of a general and permanent nature, arranged by subject.
The U.S. Code is arranged into 54 "titles," that is groupings by broad topics. For instance, Title 11 deals with bankruptcy, Title 18 covers crimes and criminal procedure, and Title 38 is on veterans' benefits.
Each title is subdivided into chapters and sub-chapters. The most specific levels are sections. Legal researchers will recognize the § symbol to mean "section."
Citations to sections in the U.S. Code include a title number and a section number (or group of sections): 16 U.S.C.§ 1531. The citation is usually completed by the publication year of the Code. New editions of the official U.S. Code are published every 6 years, with cumulative supplements published between the editions.
Bluebook abbreviation: U.S.C.
The GPO site can be a little intimidating, so several other sites provide easier-to-use versions of the same information.
Because publication of new laws in the official U.S. Code is slow, several commercial publishers offer versions of the Code. In addition to being updated more quickly, these commercial versions also contain references to court opinions, law reviews, and other sources.
If you don't already have a citation to a title and section number of the U.S. Code, use an index, popular names table, or another source to find the relevant section of the Code.
The Law Library has three printed indexes to the Code located in the Reference Area:
The Popular Name Table feature is organized by phrases generally used as the name of the a law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This tool provides:
Each of the three publishers of the printed U.S. Code also includes a Popular Name Table in their sets.
Sometimes legal researchers need to see what the language of a law was at a particular point in the past and they turn to prior editions of the U.S. Code for that information.