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The United States Code

The United States Code is a compilation of most public laws currently in force, organized by subject matter. When a law has been amended by another law, the U.S. Code reflects this change.  The U.S. Code collates the original law with subsequent amendments, and it deletes language that has later been repealed or superseded.

The U.S. Code is organized by subject area into 54 titles. Titles are further broken down by chapter and section. Citations to the U.S. Code look like this: 42 U.S.C. 1382 or 42 § 1382. This means the law appears in title 42, section 1382 of the Code.

There are several ways available to determine where a law is codified–that is, where the law appears in the U.S. Code.   A law may be codified in more than one title of the Code, and a law is generally codified in several sections.

Subject Access.  Although the U.S. Code is divided into 54 titles by broad subject area (such as Public Health and Welfare or Education), it is much easier to use the Code’s multi-volume general indexes.  The indexes are detailed and useful.

Popular Name Access.  Another way to determine where a law has been codified is by looking it up by its popular name (for instance, Balanced Budget Act of 1997 or Civil Rights Act of 1964).  Popular name tables can be found in the following publications: U.S. Code, Shepard’s Acts and Cases by Popular Names, the U.S. Code Annotated Popular Name Table, U.S. Code Service, and U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News.  These name tables show where that law appears in the Code.

Public Law Number Access.  When a public law is printed, it generally contains cross-references to where particular sections of that law are codified.  The cross-references appear in the margins of the public law.  In addition, the U.S. Code contains a table that lists all public law numbers in chronological order and shows where each section of the law is codified.