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When conducting U.S. government and legal research it is important to understand the basics of how the government is organized. This will help you determine which resources to choose in order to locate particular documentation. The Constitution of the United States divides the federal government into three branches:
Legislative – Makes laws (Congress)
Executive – Carries out laws (President, Vice President, Cabinet)
Judicial – Evaluates and interprets laws (Supreme Court and other courts)
The websites and databases listed in this section will lead you to the most comprehensive resources for U.S. government documents available free online or through Penn Library subscription. For an in-depth guide on U.S. Government Documents go to U.S. Government Documents: Major Indexes and Documents at Penn.
The official website for U.S. federal legislative information. It provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information, presented by the Library of Congress (LOC).Congress.gov is usually updated the morning after a session adjourns. Consult Coverage Dates for Legislative Information for the specific update schedules and start date for each collection.
Formerly FDsys, GovInfo provides online access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. Content includes Congressional bills from 1993 to the present, House and Senate Documents, and Reports from 104th Congress (1995-96) forward.
HeinOnline contains the full-text of law review journals and related legal documents, including the Code of Federal Regulations, English Reports (1220-1867), U.S. Presidential Library, U.S. Statutes at Large, and U.S. Supreme Court Library, and World Trials Library, and more.
U.S. legislative publications and government information. Much of the material is fulltext. Includes pending bills, laws, legislative histories, committee reports and documents, Congressional hearings and select committee prints, and biographical data about members of Congress.
The Bepress Legal Repository is a network of law-related research materials. Law schools, research units, institutes, centers, think tanks, conferences, and other subject-appropriate groups post materials to specific publications.
HeinOnline's signature collection of more than 3,000 fully searchable, image-based journals, each dating back to the first issue ever published. This scholarly journals database spans more than 41 million pages and 40 disciplines.
Nexis Uni is a news, business, and legal database providing full text to all federal and state statutes, codes, and regulations; all federal and state case law (from 1789 for federal and date of statehood for the states); access to major law journals and reviews; and briefs of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lexis Advance (formerly Lexis.com and Nexis.com, which were also known as "Lexis Nexis Classic") is available in Lippincott Library. Come to the Lippincott Library Reference Desk and ask to be logged on. This version is much more powerful for legal research than NexisUni, the successor to LexisNexis Academic.