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Social Work Policy Analysis

Finding Federal Laws

Browsing for Laws

You can browse popular names, by Congressional session, in the Public Laws lists at Congress.gov (1951-Present). The lists will include Public Law numbers as well as links to the full-text of each law.

Searching Congress.gov

An extensive database of laws (1990-Present) is searchable through the Congress.gov website. Through this database you can find the original text of federal legislation.  The most precise way to search is with the Public Law or Bill number but keyword searching can sometimes be effective. See the document at the top of this box for directions.


Searching the United States Code

You can
search the U.S. Code by citation. For example, the U.S. Code citation for the Americans with Disabilities Act is 42 U.S.C. 1201, where 42 is the Title and 12101 is the section.

Useful Information

Finding Court Cases

The citation is just as important for finding court cases as it is for finding laws. Often the citation will be in your textbook. If not, use Google. Be sure to put the case name in quotation marks, e.g. "Roe v. Wade," along with the word citation in the search box:

Roe v. Wade United States Supreme Court legal citation

To find the actual case, use the Westlaw database, click on Cases and put the citation in the top Search box.: