United States Code of Laws – Definition

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The Code of Laws of the United States of America Definition

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives codifies and consolidates the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States by its subjects in order to simplify the reading of the laws. This codified and consolidated compilation of the laws is known as the United States Code of Law. The US Code of Law is divided into 53 titles based on broad subjects. This Code of Law is also referred to as the Code of Laws of the United States of America, United States Code, or USC. It was published in 1926 for the first time. The next main edition was published in 1934, and since then, the main editions have been published every six years. The most current information is published in the cumulative supplements which are published each year.

A Little More on What is the US Code of Law

After a law is passed by the Congress and signed by the President of the United States, it is first published as a “slip law” by the Office of the Federal Register. The slip laws are published in the form of an unbound pamphlet. The slip laws may provide various information including (i) the bill number; (ii) the law number, public or private; (iii) date of enactment of the law; (iv) Citation to laws mentioned in the text is provided in the form of editorial note; and (v) information regarding the legislative history of the bill.

All the laws passed in a particular session of the US Congress is compiled by the Office of the Federal Register at the end of each session. It is compiled in the United States Statutes at Large in chronological order based on the date of enactment of the laws. This compilation includes both private and public laws that are passed in that particular session.

As in the Statutes at large, the laws are organized in chronological order, it is often difficult to read it through. The laws regarding related topics may be scattered across many volumes which makes it inconvenient to gather all the pieces together to have a clear perspective. Earlier laws are often repealed and amended by the statutes and in order to determine which laws are in force at any given time requires an extensive cross-referencing.

The United States Codes aims to simplify the reading of the law by categorizing them by subject matter and eliminating the expired and amended laws. It is the responsibility of the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives to determine the statutes that should be codified. They also identify the statutes that are affected by an amendment or repeal in order to eliminate any redundant version of the statute.

Only the general and permanent laws are codified in the United States Code and each subject is assigned its own title. The titles are then subdivided into a combination of smaller units including subtitles, chapters, subchapters, sections, part, subparts, paragraph, subparagraph, etc. It also provides different finding aids such as subject index and tables. It provides Popular Name Table, Statutes at Large Table, etc. in order to simplify and contextualize the reading of the laws.

The statutes in the US Code of Laws are organized according to the following titles,  (Title 53 is reserved):

Title 1—General Provisions

Title 2—The Congress

Title 3—The President

Title 4—Flag And Seal, Seat Of Government, And The States

Title 5—Government Organization And Employees; and Appendix

Title 6—Domestic Security


Title 8—Aliens And Nationality

Title 9—Arbitration

Title 10—Armed Forces

Title 11—Bankruptcy; and Appendix

Title 12—Banks And Banking

Title 13—Census

Title 14—Coast Guard

Title 15—Commerce And Trade

Title 16—Conservation

Title 17—Copyrights

Title 18—Crimes And Criminal Procedure; and Appendix

Title 19—Customs Duties


Title 21—Food And Drugs

Title 22—Foreign Relations And Intercourse

Title 23—Highways

Title 24—Hospitals And Asylums

Title 25—Indians

Title 26—Internal Revenue Code

Title 27—Intoxicating Liquors

Title 28—Judiciary And Judicial Procedure; and Appendix

Title 29—Labor

Title 30—Mineral Lands And Mining

Title 31—Money And Finance

Title 32—National Guard

Title 33—Navigation And Navigable Waters

Title 34—Crime Control And Law Enforcement

Title 35—Patents

Title 36—Patriotic And National Observances, Ceremonies, And Organizations

Title 37—Pay And Allowances Of The Uniformed Services

Title 38—Veterans’ Benefits

Title 39—Postal Service

Title 40—Public Buildings, Property, And Works

Title 41—Public Contracts

Title 42—The Public Health And Welfare

Title 43—Public Lands

Title 44—Public Printing And Documents

Title 45—Railroads

Title 46—Shipping

Title 47—Telecommunications

Title 48—Territories And Insular Possessions

Title 49—Transportation

Title 50—War And National Defense; and Appendix

Title 51—National And Commercial Space Programs

Title 52—Voting And Elections

Title 53—[Reserved]

Title 54—National Park Service And Related Programs

References for US Code of Law

Academic Research on US Code

International Litigation Under the United States Code, Smit, H. (1965). Columbia Law Review, 65(6), 1015-1046. This paper discusses and reviews the International Litigation under the United States Code.

United States Code, Act, R. F. (1980). Title 15 (Commerce and Trade). This Chapter codifies the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, commonly known as SCRA.

A mathematical approach to the study of the united states code, Bommarito II, M. J., & Katz, D. M. (2010). Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 389(19), 4195-4200. This paper approaches the study of the United States Codes of Law from a mathematical perspective. It formalizes a representation of the United States Code and suggests that the Code is a hierarchically organized document that contains language and explicit citations between its provisions. This formalization is then used for measuring aspects of the Code as codified in 2008, 2009 and 2010. It helped in characterizing the actual changes in the Code over time. The study finds that in the recent past, the Code has grown in its amount of structure, interdependence, and language.

Lost laws: what we can’t find in the United States code, Tress, W. (2009). Golden Gate UL Rev., 40, 129. This paper identifies certain shortcomings of the current version of the United States Codes of Laws. The issues the paper identifies are- some laws are relegated to notes and appendices; certain laws are considered to be temporary and hence left out; the authority of the language in the Code varies from Title to Title. The paper traces the development of the United States Code and looks at its problematic structure and restricted content in the context of that background. It proposes certain measures to resolve some of the issues and to develop a new electronic version of the Code.

The United States Code, Prima Facie Evidence, and Positive Law, Whisner, M. (2009). Law Libr. J., 101, 545. Different subject matters related to the United States Code is discussed in this paper. It looks into the circumstances when the courts turn to the United States Statutes at Large over U.S.C. The background against which the first edition of the U.S.C was published is discussed. It is also discussed that when it was first adopted, it was decided to be used only as prima facie evidence of the laws. The paper discusses the progress in enacting titles as positive law and the new titles that are being used in the current versions.

Properties of the United States code citation network, Bommarito, M., & Katz, D. (2009). This paper investigates the properties of the United States Code’s citation network. It examines the directed degree distribution of the network. The results suggest for outdegree distribution, the power-law model is a plausible fit but for indegree distribution, it is not a fit. The paper constructs a model to understand this result. The model is developed on the assumption that the probability of citation is a per-word rate.

Law is code: a software engineering approach to analyzing the united states code, Li, W., Azar, P., Larochelle, D., Hill, P., & Lo, A. W. (2015). J. Bus. & Tech. L., 10, 297. This article analyzes the evolution of the United States Code from its beginning. It uses a quantitative, unbiased and software-engineers approach in this analysis. The structure of the U.S Code, its strengths and vulnerabilities are analyzed and discussed. The article also provides some insight into the new ways of thinking about individual laws. The paper argues the computational approaches to the law can increase efficiency and improve access to justice.

Computer Crime: The Ribicoff Amendment to United States Code, Title 18, McLaughlin, G., & Ribicoff, A. (1978). Crim. Just. J., 2, 217. It provides the details of the Title 19 Chapter 4 Subtitle II Part I of the United States Code of Laws.

United States Code, GOV, C. (2016). This is an Editorial Reclassification that notifies the elimination of Title 50, Appendix of United States Code. It says the Appendix to the said title is being eliminated and most of the provision that is not obsolete is being transferred to new Chapters 49 to 57 of Title 50, War and National Defense. Some other provisions are transferred to other titles of the Code.

United States Code, Code, U. S. (26). Subtitle F. It provides the details of the Title 19 Chapter 4 Subtitle II Part I of the United States Code of Laws.

The Need for a New United States Code, Angell, R. S. (1956). The Library Quarterly, 26(4), 318-330. The article attempts to develop some general considerations on the function and content of catalog entries and based on that it tries to find out whether there is a need for a new United States Code.

Statutory Interpretation of Ambiguous Criminal Statutes: An Analysis of Title 18, Section 207 (c) of the United States Code, Frensilli, B. (1989). Geo. Wash. L. Rev., 58, 972. This article analyzes the Title 18, Section 207 (c) of the United States Code. The Ethics in Government Act passed by the Congress in 1978 made amendments to this section in an attempt to place greater restrictions on the lobbying activities of former government officials. In 1987, disputes arose between the government and a former government official over the interpretation of the statute. This article analyzes the section under the light of this dispute.

The United States Code: Its Accuracy, Accessibility, and Currency, LeFevre, P. G. (2012). Admin. & Reg. L. News, 38, 10. The article, written by a former director of the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives discusses the present status of the code and its future in terms of three qualities that matter most to the users- accuracy, accessibility, and currency.

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