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Circuit Riders: Basic Legal Research

A guide for non-law librarians


The preamble and Article I of the Constitution of the United States.


The United States Constitution is the "supreme law of the land" and no laws, federal, state or tribal, may violate it.

Additionally, each state and federally recognized Native American Tribe has its own constitution.

South Carolina laws may not conflict with the South Carolina Constitution or the United States Constitution.

The United States Constitution

An online version of the Constitution of the United States of America, annotated with analysis and interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court, is available on the website. This online "Constitution Annotated" is free, easy to navigate, and updated regularly by the Library of Congress. 

You can also view the Constitution of the United States and read about its creation and ratification on the website for the National Archives.

Annotated copies of the U.S. Constitution are printed in the United States Code Annotated  (U.S.C.A.) published by West Publishing, and in the United States Code Service (U.S.C.S) published by LexisNexis. Both printed series include the text of the United States Constitution annotated with cases interpreting its provisions, and are available in the Law Library on the first floor.. Both are also available through subscription services, Westlaw (U.S.C.A.) and LexisNexis (U.S.C.S.).

The South Carolina Constitution

Constitution volume of South Carolina Code Annotated; contains both SC and United States Constitutions

The print South Carolina Code Annotated includes a Constitution volume that contains the text of both the South Carolina Constitution and the United States Constitution. Both constitutions are annotated with summaries and citations for South Carolina cases that have interpreted individual constitutional provisions. 

Both constitutions are indexed in the general A-I and J-Z subject indexes for the South Carolina Code Annotated. There is also an index at the end of the Constitution volume.


The annotated South Carolina and U.S. Constitutions are available online through the subscription services  Westlaw and LexisNexis.

 un-annotated South Carolina Constitution is accessible for free through the South Carolina Legislature website, which also provides a link to access the United States Constitution through the U.S. Senate's website

Other State Constitutions

Map of the United States.



Several sites on the free web provide links for all state constitutions and laws. 

Two examples are Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute’s Listing by Jurisdiction and FindLaw’s U.S. Codes and Statutes page.

Tribal Constitutions

Each federally recognized Native American Tribe is a sovereign entity, enacting their own constitutions and laws to govern their lands and people. While tribes are bound by the United States Constitution, state constitutions and laws generally have not effect, except where provided in treaty or federal law.

South Carolina's only federally recognized tribe is the Catawba Nation located in the northeast part of the state near Rock Hill.

The Catawba Nation was re-recognized in 1993 when H.R. 2399 (103rd Congress) The Catawba Indian Tribe of South Carolina land Claims Settlement Act of 1993 was passed (Public Law 108-116).  This bill repealed the Termination Act (of 1959).

A companion bill was passed by the South Carolina Assembly,  The Catawba Indian Claims Settlement Act, 1993 Act No. 142. This act was incorporated into the South Carolina Code of Laws at Title 27, Chapter 16.

A copy of the Tribe's current constitution is linked from the tribe's webpage about their current constitutional initiative.

There are nine state-recognized Native American tribes in South Carolina; the Beaver Creek Indians, Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe of South Carolina, Pee Dee Indian Nation of Upper South Carolina, Pee Dee Indian Tribe, Piedmont American Indian Association, Santee Indian Organization, Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians, the Waccamaw Indian People, and the Wassamasaw Tribe of Varnertown Indians.

Other Tribal resources:


Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (Federally Recognized Tribes)

88 FR 2112 (January 12, 2023) provides a list of federally recognized Native American tribes, pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribes List Act of 1994 (PL 103-454). This list is updated annually in January.

Federally Recognized Indian Tribes and Resources for Native Americans ( Information about and resources for Native Americans from the U.S. government.

National Indian Law Library (NILL)  at the Native American Rights Fund is a law library devoted to federal Indian and tribal law. NILL maintains a unique and valuable collection of Indian law resources, including Tribal Constitutions.