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Updating Statutes in the United States Code Using Online Resources: Steps in Updating U.S.C Online

Updating the United States Code Service Using Online Resources

For this example, we will update 5 U.S.C.S. § 5707 in the United States Code (U.S.C.) using online resources including Westlaw, Lexis Advance, Bloomberg Law, and the free version at the Office of the Law Revision Counsel at the United States House of Representatives.  

1. Updating a statutory section on Westlaw.  

The first thing to look at is the “currentness” of the database on Westlaw. 

To determine this, click the link to Currentness on the top of the page.  This will tell you the last time the database was updated.  For this, the USCA on Westlaw is current through P.L. 115-61 and Title 26 is current through P.L. 115-64.  

The next thing to look at is the historical source note for the statutory section.  On Westlaw, it is called the Credit(s) field.  The historical source note for 5 U.S.C.A. § 5707 indicates that it was first passed into law on September 6, 1966 by Public Law No. 89-554 which can be found in volume 80 of the Statutes at Large on page 500.

  • It was amended for the first time on May 19, 1975 by Public Law Number 94-22, § 6(a), which can be found in volume 89 of the Statutes at Large on page 85.
  • It was amended a second time on January 2, 1986 by Public Law Number 99-234, Title I, § 104 which can be found in volume 99 of the Statutes at Large on page 1758.
  • It was amended a third time on September 25, 1990 by Public Law Number 101-391 § 5(a)(1) which can be found in volume 104 of the Statutes at Large on page 750.
  • It was amended a fourth time on September 30, 1994 by Public Law Number 103-329, Title IV, § 634(b),(c) which can be found in volume 108 of the Statutes at Large on page 2429.
  • It was amended a fifth time on September 23, 1996 by Public Law Number 104-201, Div. A, Title XVI, § 1614(a) which can be found in volume 110 of the Statutes at Large on page 2739.
  • It was amended a sixth time on October 19, 1996 by Public Law Number 104-316, Title I, § 103(e) which can be found in volume 110 of the Statutes at Large on page 3829.
  • It was amended an seventh time on December 19, 2014 by Public Law Number 113-291, Div A, Title IX, Subtitle B, § 915(b) which can be found in volume 128 of the Statutes at Large on page 3475.
  • It was amended an eighth and final time on May 16, 2017 by Public Law Number 115-34, § 3 which can be found in volume 131 of the Statutes at Large on page 846.

To know how many times a statutory section has been amended, count the number of semi-colons after the initial date of passage for the statutory section. 

One can KeyCite a statutory section on Westlaw by clicking the History tab.  The results are straightforward and easy to understand.   There are different versions of the statutory section, under the Versions section. 

By clicking the KeyCite History tab under the Legislative History section, Westlaw presents the various legislative history materials for all the legislation associated with 5 U.S.C.A. § 5707.  Note the latest is Public Law Number 115-34.  

 

This includes links to all the legislative history documents for Public Law No. 115-34, including Congressional Reports, CRS Summaries, and materials from the Congressional Record.  

2. Updating a statutory section on Lexis Advance.  

The first thing to look at is the “currentness” of the database on Lexis Advance. 

Updating a statute on Lexis Advance is also much easier than updating in print.  The first thing to look at is the currentness of the source on Lexis Advance.  Lexis Advance is more straightforward in displaying currentness than Westlaw.  It is prominently displayed under the citation at the top of the document.  For 5 U.S.C.S. § 5707, the U.S.C.S. database on Lexis Advance is “Current through PL 115-64, approved 9/29/17”.  This is more apparent and descriptive than Westlaw.  

The next thing to look at is the historical source note for the statutory section.  On Lexis Advance it is called the History segment.   This contains the same information that we saw on Westlaw for 5 U.S.C.S. § 5707, including the four amendments; however, it presents it in a goofy way with the second parenthetical with only three of the four amendments.    

Lexis Advance lists the Shepard’s Comprehensive Report and that will provide some legislative history information for 5 U.S.C.S. § 5707. 

3. Updating a statutory section on Bloomberg Law.  

The first thing to look at is the currency of the source on Bloomberg Law. 

Bloomberg Law is also pretty straightforward in displaying currency. After you click the General Info icon, it is prominently displayed to the right of the document.  For 5 U.S.C. § 5707, the source on Bloomberg Law is “Current through PL 115-64 (September 29, 2017).”

The next thing to look at is the historical source note for the statutory section on Bloomberg Law. This contains the same information that we saw on Westlaw and Lexis Advance for 5 U.S.C. § 5707.  It also includes the May 16, 2017 amendment to 5 U.S.C. § 5707. 

4. Updating a statutory section using the United States Code at the Office of the Law Revisision Counsel Website.

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel maintains an official version of the United States Code on its website.  They are the office in the United States House of Representatives that is responsible for codifying and maintaining federal legislation.  It has a link for currency information.  

The link to currency indicates that the United States Code on the website is “current through Public Law 115-64 (09/29/2017)”

The historical source note for the statutory section on the Office of the Law Revision Counsel website contains the same information that we saw on Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law for 5 U.S.C. § 5707.  It also includes the May 16, 2017 amendment to 5 U.S.C. § 5707. 

In summary, updating a statutory section online is so much easier and seamless than updating a statutory section in print.  It is also more current.  

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