Publication of the Law

Publication of the law is the process of rendering a work, whether it be a statute or a court decision, available for the comprehension of other people. This includes posting a work on a website, where internet users can right-click and save a copy.


A recent study found that judicial characteristics and workload affect publication rates but that publication is not particularly strategic on the part of judges. Rather, it may be an expression of their policy interests in the particular case.

Public laws

Public laws are a form of law that governs the relationship between individuals and the state. They include constitutional law, administrative law and criminal law. They are also important for their role in providing checks and balances on the government’s authority.

The United States publishes a large number of public laws every year. These laws affect a variety of issues, including immigration, health and education.

In the United States, most public laws are passed by Congress. These laws are published in the United States Code, which is a collection of all general and permanent federal laws.

Some public laws are incorporated into the Code, while others remain as freestanding provisions. The Office of the Law Revision Counsel (“OLRC”) reviews each new public law to determine if it should be included in the Code or not.

OLRC also prepares marginal notes, citations and a legislative history for all public laws, as well as the official “slip” version of the law before publication. The slip law, or enrolled copy, is admissible in all state and federal courts and tribunals, and can be obtained through the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO).

At the end of each session of Congress, public and private slip laws are compiled into bound volumes called Statutes at Large. They contain a chronological arrangement of all the laws passed by Congress during the session.

The statutes at large are numbered sequentially by the Congress in which they were passed, and each volume has a unique law citation that combines the public law number with the Congress number. The statutes at large are also available at large public libraries and federal depository libraries as part of their participation in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

The subject theory is one explanation for why some things are considered public law and others are private law. This theory suggests that a field of law is public law if an actor is a public authority with the power to act unilaterally, and a field of law is private law if an actor is a private entity or individual.

Private laws

Public laws are passed to regulate how the government interacts with its citizens, while private laws are enacted to protect the rights of an individual or group of people who are suffering from a government program or who are contesting a decision made by an executive agency.

Public law is also used to refer to the legal system of a country, which can be either civil or common law. It includes topics such as constitutional, criminal, administrative, taxation and aspects of international law.

The most important difference between public and private law is that private law focuses on relationships between individuals, while public law aims to regulate interactions between the state and its citizens.

Generally speaking, private law includes subjects such as family law, contracts, property and torts. It also includes matters such as estate planning, trusts and the law of equity.

Some countries have a separate set of rules for private relations, such as the law of contract or torts. Others have a single, broad system of private law that covers all relationships between governments and private individuals or institutions.

When a bill is introduced in Congress, it is delivered to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Once the President signs the bill into law, OFR prepares it for publication as a slip law.

Prior to publication, OFR also prepares marginal notes and citations for each law. These citations can be used to search the United States Statutes at Large for both public and private laws.

At the end of a congressional session, slip laws are compiled into the Statutes at Large. These are known as “session laws.” The Laws of Maine volumes contain text of all private and special laws enacted during the same legislative session, and all laws enacted at a special session are grouped together.

Federal district court decisions

In the United States, federal district courts are trial-level courts that hear a wide range of cases. They are often the first stop for parties who have been denied a right or claim by a state court, and they may also hear disputes between a party and a federal administrative agency.

The district courts are located in 94 jurisdictions throughout the country, and they can decide cases in both civil and criminal proceedings. The losing party in a case has the right to appeal the ruling to a court of appeals. In addition, a party who settles a civil case usually relinquishes their right to appeal.

Unlike state courts, the federal judiciary does not try every case that comes before it. Instead, it resolves legal disputes that arise under the federal sources of law and interprets those laws.

Federal district judges consider cases that raise significant legal questions and are of broad interest to the general public. They include those that deal with important issues of public policy, that are based on well-established principles, or that advance understanding of an area of law.

They also consider those that involve a novel law or issue and that are important to the future of the law. The criteria for deciding whether to publish a decision are complex, and it is difficult to predict what a judge may think will be of interest to the general public.

Some scholars believe that published decisions represent the full scope of the judicial business of the federal district courts, while others suggest that researchers should study unpublished cases as well to get a better sense of the entire judicial behavior of the courts. Although a large portion of federal district court decisions are published, some scholars question this practice and suggest that published cases do not necessarily represent the entire spectrum of judicial behavior in the federal courts (Swenson 2004).

However, there is little evidence to indicate whether publication is a predictive indicator of reversal by the US Courts of Appeals. In some cases, publication is a strategy to justify the decision to the appellate courts. Other cases, on the other hand, may not require such a strategy and would not be likely to be reversed.

United States Code

The United States Code is the official collection of federal laws. It is divided into fifty-four major topics (called titles) and is published every six years with annual cumulative supplements.

It contains the full text of the statutes enacted by the Congress. It collates the original law with subsequent amendments and deletes language that has been repealed or superseded by later legislation. It also includes historical notes that are included in the text when sections of a law are no longer in effect.

Most practicing attorneys use an annotated version of the Code produced by a private company. Two of the most popular are the United States Code Annotated, abbreviated USCA, and the United States Code Service, abbreviated USCS.

Both versions are fully searchable and contain annotations of cases relevant to the statute, making it easier for a user to locate relevant case information quickly. However, the USCA edition is more comprehensive in its annotations than the USCS edition, which only includes selected cases.

The United States Code is also divided into parts, chapters, and sections. Each part or chapter may be a different subject, and each section may be a different title or subchapter within a title. The units are determined by Congress in the laws that enact the law, but the editors of the Code have generally followed the organization of the underlying acts as much as possible.

In addition to the official Code, many individual states publish their own codes of laws. These codes are not a substitute for the official Code and are often less authoritative.

If you need an authoritative and current set of the Code, the United States Code Service from LexisNexis is a great choice. It covers all 53 titles of the Code, the Constitution, and selected provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations. It is a highly searchable, comprehensive set with the expert annotations of our attorney-editors.

The library’s early federal codes and statutes collection provides access to a wealth of materials from prior to the establishment of the Code in 1926. You can browse this collection in an easy-to-navigate chart view or in HOLLIS, HeinOnline’s archival database of historical legal publications.