U.S. Law & Legislative History

This guide highlights online or electronic resources for researching U.S. law & legislative history:

A.  Case Law, Analysis, & Court Filings

LexisNexis/Lexis AdvanceWestlaw/WestlawNext, and Bloomberg Law (SLS Databases)

Access to comprehensive U.S. law (cases, statutes, regulations, etc.), secondary sources, business information, foreign & international materials, and both current & historical news coverage.

Bloomberg Law – Docket Searching & BNA Law Reports  (SLS Database)

Bloomberg Law (BLAW) offers robust and unlimited searching and custom alerts for dockets and underlying filed documents in federal and many state courts. BLAW also contains Bloomberg BNA’s invaluable daily, weekly, and monthly news/analysis service reports (“BNA Law Reports”) and updates–covering legal, legislative, regulatory, and economic developments. Specialty areas include: corporate & business; employment & labor; environment; health & safety; health care; intellectual property; litigation; and tax. Available to Stanford Law School students, staff and faculty, all of whom may apply for an account here.

Bloomberg BNA (SLS Database)

Bloomberg BNA delivers expert analysis, news, practice tools, and guidance spanning the full range of legal practice areas, including tax & accounting, labor & employment,intellectual property, banking & securities, employee benefits, health care, privacy & data security, human resources, environment, and health & safety. Available to the Stanford Law School community. Much of the content in Bloomberg BNA is included in Bloomberg Law (BLAW) (see above). If you wish to access Bloomberg BNA to obtain materials not already on BLAW, your SUNet ID will enable IP authentication on campus. If off-campus, please contact reference@law.stanford.edu for log-in information.

Lexis/Nexis’ U.S. federal and state court docket product, capturing the documents that are filed during the course of lawsuits. CourtLink is accessible to the Stanford Law School community, by logging in here, using one’s Lexis Advance username and one’s last name in ALLCAPS.

PACER (SLS Database)

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service of the United States Courts that allows users to obtain case and docket information from Federal Appellate, District and Bankruptcy courts, and from the U.S. Party/Case Index. Access is restricted, and a PACER login and a password are required. Note that, in nearly all instances, it is not necessary for Stanford Law affiliates to use PACER because both BLAW and Courtlink’s dockets (see above) already offer these materials to the Stanford Law School community at no cost. If you do not find what you need via BLAW or Courtlink, and feel you need to use PACER, please inquire at the Reference Desk (reference@law.stanford.edu).

LexisNexis Academic Universe (SLS Database)

Provides access to various databases, including current news, business information, company directories, federal and state laws, regulations, legal cases, medical and references. For off-campus access use: EZPROXY Note that for those in the Stanford Law School community who already have a Lexis Advance account, it is likely not necessary to access LexisNexis Academic, since these materials are also within Lexis Advance.

Legal Information Institute

Access the U.S. Code, Code of Federal Regulations, case law, and other collections on Cornell University Law School’s respected research and electronic publishing site.


Opinions from and information about U.S. Supreme Court, Circuit Courts of Appeal, and District Courts, state courts. Searchable and browsable.

Fastcase (SLS Database)

Fastcase is an online legal research tool providing access to federal and state cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, and bar publications by keyword (or “Boolean” search), natural language search, or citation lookup. Information about Fastcase’s scope of coverage and documentation is on the product website www.fastcase.com. Access is limited to the Stanford Law School community.

Court Websites

Court websites often provide access to several years’ worth of recent opinions, briefs and other case documents. (e.g. SCOTUS9th Circuit Court of AppealsU.S. District Court Northern District California)

B.  Statutes, Regulations, & Legislative History Materials

LexisNexis/Lexis AdvanceWestlaw/WestlawNext, and Bloomberg Law (SLS Databases)

See above.

ProQuest Congressional (SLS Database)

Essential United States federal legislative history resource available to all Stanford University students, staff and faculty via IP-range access. Contains Congressional materials such as Congressional Record, bills, committee reports and prints, and CRS Reports. For off-campus access use: EZPROXY

HeinOnline (SLS Database)

Contains numerous domestic and foreign statutes and regulatory materials, including Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Register Library, Treaties and Agreements Library, United States Code, U.S. Federal Legislative History Library, and U.S. Statutes at Large. Access to HeinOnLine is limited to the Stanford University community. For off-campus access use: EZPROXY

Federal Digital System (GPO FDSys)

Free online access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. Through FDSys, you are able to full-text search, browse, and download materials from collections such as the Congressional Record, Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Register, Statutes at Large, etc.


Congress.gov is an official source for federal legislative information, offering full-text searching and retrieval of public laws, pending bills, bill status, committee reports, hearings, and the Congressional Record. It replaces the THOMAS.gov site (which remains available through the end of 2014).


Jointly administered by National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), FederalRegister.gov offers an enhanced edition of the daily Federal Register – in an easier-to-read format with extensive navigation aids and links to related material, such as the Code of Federal Regulations and the United States Code.  Also includes aids for finding materials related to various agencies or regulatory topics, along with notification/subscription tools.


Access materials germane to the development of Federal regulations (or rulemakings) issued by U.S. Government agencies, including notices, proposed and final federal rules, supporting materials, public comments, and federal agency guidance and adjudications.

Legal Information Institute

Access the U.S. Code, Code of Federal Regulations, and other collections on Cornell University Law School’s respected research and electronic publishing site.

United States Code
The Office of Law Revision Counsel, within the House of Representatives, maintains and publishes the U.S. Code.  Online, they offer several ways to access current and historical editions, both in HTML and PDF formats. Cornell’s Legal Information Institute also offers the Code in HTML format.

United States Code Prelim

The U.S. Code prelim is an advance posting of the next online version of the United States Code, published by the House of Representatives’ Office of Law Revision Counsel.  This electronic version of the U.S. Code reflects newly-codified law, often more than a year before the print version is updated.  Cornell’s Legal Information Institute’s version of the U.S. Code also reflects both the existing and any prelim content for a given statute.

Updated 05/14