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Circuit Riders: Updating Federal Statutes

Basic Legal Research Guide

Updating Federal Statutes in Print

United States Code (U.S.C.)

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel (OLRC) of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) publish a revised edition of the official un-annotated print (or "main edition" ) of the U.S. Code every six years. Between revisions, the GPO updates the official print U.S. Code with five annual hardbound cumulative supplements (I-V). 

The House and GPO recently completed the 2018 revised main edition volumes for all titles of the U.S. Code. The next revised main edition will be the 2024 edition. In the interim, the 2018 main edition with be supplemented by hardbound cumulative supplements I-V for the years 2019 through 2023.

Annotated Codes (U.S.C.A. & U.S.C.S.)

Each volume of the print unofficial annotated versions of the U.S. Code (U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S.) is updated annually with either a cumulative  pocketpart inserted in the back of that volume or a separate cumulative softbound supplement shelved next to it. These supplements to the hardbound volumes include any amendments or notice of repeal for individual code sections and any new research resources or case notes that have been added to a code section's annotations since the hardbound volume was last published.

Between publications of the annual supplements for each volume, softbound supplementary pamphlets are provided at the end of the U.S.C.A. and the U.S.C.S. that provide the same updating information for each entire set (all titles and sections).

Updating Federal Statutes for Free Online

The OLRC's United States Code website provides online access to the current 2018 main edition, as revised by individual supplements I through V, as well as previous editions of the United States Code (1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012). 

Federal statutes are enacted and amended by Public Laws. The Currency and Updating page of the OLRC's United States Code website indicates through which Public Law and date the U.S. Code online is current. The OLRC updates its online version of the U.S. Code throughout each congressional session and includes a currency note at the top of each section of the U.S. Code.

If an individual code section has been affected by any recently passed laws, a link is provided to view those laws in a list of "Pending Updates". If there are no pending updates listed, the section is current as shown. No Pending Updates link is provided for the Definitions statute for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1402 below. The currency note at the top of the statute tells you that it is current through April 23, 2020.


20 USC section 1401 from the OLRC's website with a currency notation at the top.

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) uses the OLRC's U.S. Code information for its
 "virtual main editions" on its govinfo website. The GPO also certifies each page as authentic using an eagle logo that says "Authenticated U.S. Government Information."

Govinfo's U.S. Code web page.

Updating Federal Statutes Using Citators--KeyCite & Shepard's

Citators use flags and signals to notify you:

  • that there is pending legislation that might affect a statute;
  • that a statute has in fact been recently amended or repealed; or
  • that a court has ruled a statute to be unconstitutional or otherwise invalid.

Citators also provide secondary sources and cases that cite a statute

KeyCite is the citator for Westlaw. Shepard's is the citator for Lexis.  Some public libraries in South Carolina provide access to Westlaw for their patrons, while some South Carolina colleges and universities, including the University of South Carolina, provide access to Nexis Uni (by Lexis).