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Military Law Research

This guide provides an overview of research strategies and resources for military law courses at UNC School of Law, including military justice, the law of armed conflict, and national security law.

Executive Orders and Relevant Federal Agencies

Executive Orders and Relevant Federal Agencies

Executive Orders

An executive order is a directive issued by the President of the United States that manages operations of the executive branch, including all federal agencies. The President has traditionally used executive orders to provide instructions for federal agencies on policy relating to national security, and they should also be reviewed during the research process on national security law issues.  

Executive orders carry the force of law and are initially printed in the Federal Register and later codified in Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations. They are numbered consecutively as part of a series. To read a detailed review of the executive order and its place in the American legal system, please review this piece by the American Bar Association.

In addition to finding executive orders in the Federal Register and the CFR, you can also view collections of these and other presidential documents via the following resources:

  • FederalRegister.gov - In addition to providing access to the Federal Register, this website also provide access to executive orders from 1994-present. (Free online access.) 
  • GovInfo - Provides access to the Compilation of Presidential Documents, a monthly collection of presidential documents published by the Office of the Federal Register. This collection includes presidential messages, remarks, proclamations and executive orders. Available from 1992-present. (Free online access.) 
  • HeinOnline - Provides access to the U.S. Presidential Library, a collection that includes messages and papers of the presidents, daily and weekly compilations of presidential documents, public papers of the presidents, documents relating to impeachment, and Title 3 of the CFR. (Available to the UNC Community.)
Relevant Federal Agencies

Multiple federal agencies are responsible for regulating in the area of national security law. Federal agency websites are often a great first stop in the regulatory research process, as they will outline the types of regulatory material issued by the agency and provide an overview of the agency's purpose. Federal agency websites also provide easy and free access to regulations and other policy-making materials.

The following is a list of the major federal agencies working in national security law areas, along with links to their websites:

Remember that state agencies can also play a role in supporting national security law enforcement, but this guide does not address state regulatory agencies.

Regulations and Proposed Rules

Regulations and Proposed Rules

Code of Federal Regulations

The official codification of federal regulations is the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"). It organizes all currently in force federal regulations by topic and allows for more robust searching via indexes and other useful tables.

Government websites, like GovInfo, provide access to authenticated versions of the CFR. Subscription legal databases, like Lexis Advance and Westlaw Edge, provide access to annotated versions of the CFR and other primary law sources, and these annotations also contain summaries of judicial decisions, statutes, and other primary law materials related to a regulation. The following is a list of sources for accessing the CFR:

  • GovInfo - Provides free access to the CFR in both HTML and PDF formats. The PDF format is an authenticated version of the CFR. Access to superseded editions. (Free online access.) 
  • Electronic Code of Federal Regulations - Provides free access to the e-CFR in HTML format, but is not an authenticated version. The e-CFR is the most updated version of the CFR available. (Free online access.)  
  • HeinOnline - Provides access to PDF images of the print version of the CFR. Access to superseded editions. (Available to the UNC Community.)  
  • Westlaw Edge - Provides access to the CFR, and contains useful commentary and links to relevant statutes, regulations, and cases. (Available to UNC Law Faculty and Students.)
  • Lexis Advance - Provides access to the CFR, and contains useful commentary and links to other relevant statutes, regulations, and cases. (Available to UNC Law Faculty and Students.)

When using the Code of Federal Regulations to conduct regulatory research in national security law, try using the following tools to enhance your research process:

Research Tool Purpose Availability
Index & Finding Aids Volume

The CFR Index and Finding Aids volume is published once a year and provides a variety of different tools to use in researching federal regulations. Included in this volume are: (1) subject/agency index for rules currently codified in the CFR; (2) a list of agency-prepared indexes appearing in the individual CFR volumes; (3) a table of laws and Presidential documents cited as authority for regulations in the CFR; (4) a list of CFR titles, chapters, subchapters, and parts; and (5) an alphabetical list of agencies appears in the CFR.

Note: Lexis Advance and Westlaw have a separate index tool, which is also linked in the next column.

Westlaw Edge

Lexis Advance

HeinOnline

GovInfo

Credit & Authority Line

Found at the end of each regulatory section in the CFR, the credit line tracks the amendment history for the regulation you are viewing. It provides citations to the original Federal Register entries that announced the final ruling and any additional amendments.

This line also contains an authority note, which details the authorizing/enabling legislation that granted the agency the authority to issue the regulation. The authority line will be a citation to the U.S. Code, and it is another means for identifying relevant statutory law.

Viewed at the end of a regulatory section in the CFR.

Federal Register

The Federal Register is the daily journal of the federal government that contains government agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices. The majority of federal agencies will publish proposed rules in the Federal Register, so this is a good source for tracking and identifying potential additions or changes to an agency's regulatory framework.

The following is a list of sources for accessing the Federal Register:

  • FederalRegister.gov - One of the best sources for locating both final and proposed rules, FederalRegister.gov provides multiple options for searching, including via agency name, topic, document type, or key terms. Also provides access to presidential documents. (Free online access.) 
  • GovInfo - Provides free access to the Federal Register in both HTML and PDF formats. The PDF format is an authenticated version of the CFR. Access to journals from 1936-present. You can also view an index for the Federal Register at this link. (Free online access.) 
  • Regulations.gov - Another government website for locating final and proposed rules, Regulations.gov also allows users to review public comments to proposed rules and submit their own feedback. (Free online access.)
  • Westlaw Edge - Provides access to the CFR, and contains useful commentary and links to relevant statutes, regulations, and cases. (Available to UNC Law Faculty and Students.)
  • Lexis Advance - Provides access to the CFR, and contains useful commentary and links to other relevant statutes, regulations, and cases. (Available to UNC Law Faculty and Students.)