The purpose of this guide is to help you perform legislative history research. The home page provides explaination of the legislative process, as well as describes those documents associated with or produced during the legislative process.
The remaining pages will discuss tools for searching for legislative history documents and guidance on locating compiled legislative histories.
This guide will be useful to law students and non law students. Please note, some of the resouces discussed in this guide are publicy available government resources, others require campus log-on. Lexis and Westlaw resources are only available to law students.
Below is a collection of links to more resources on legislative history, legislative process, and legislative research.
Legislative history is a term that refers to the documents that are produced by Congress as a bill is introduced, studied and debated. These legislative documents are often used by attorneys and courts in an attempt to determine Congressional intent or to clarify vague or ambiguous statutory language.
Legislative documents are persuasive legal authority, meaning they do not have the force of law. Looking at the related comments and testimony, reports produced by House and Senate commitees, and textual changes to various versions of a bill as it moved throughout the legislative process, however, may help in determining the intended meaning of the law.
Knowing when and how to use legislative documents is not always easy. While this guide provides some basic guidance, you may wish to seek out more information from other sources on legislative history, legislative process, and legislative research.We have provided links to some of these resources in the "More Resources" box on the bottom left of this page.
In addition to the more commonly known textual cannons. Several cannons of construction used by the courts address the application of extrinsic legislative materials. This interpretive guidance can be useful, but remember, it is just guidance. Below is a list of the extrinsic legislative cannons recognized by the Rehnquist Court, along with citations to cases which discussed/ utilized the cannon.
The University of Illinois Law Library provides these Web pages as a service to our users and they are not intended to be taken as legal or non-legal advice on any subject. The legal information provided in this website is for general reference only, and should not be relied upon for legal purposes. You should always consult a lawyer to determine your legal rights.