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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.

Statutes

Statutes

Major National Security Legislation

The following table outlines some of the major pieces of national security legislation and provides citation information. Note that many of these statutes have been amended multiple times, and it is important for researchers to track the amendment history for a piece of legislation via the "Credit" line at the bottom of each statutory section in the U.S. Code. (See the next box on this page for a list of sources and research tools to use in the U.S. Code.)

The legislation highlighted below can be viewed online via GovInfo.

Legislation Citation Information
War Powers Resolution Pub. L. 93-148 (Nov. 7, 1973); 87 Stat. 555
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Pub. L. 95-11 (Oct. 25, 1978); 92 Stat. 1783
PATRIOT Act of 2001 Pub. L. 107-56 (Oct. 26, 2001); 115 Stat. 272
Homeland Security Act of 2002 Pub. L. 107-296 (Nov. 25, 2002); 116 Stat. 2135
E-Government Act of 2002 Pub. L. 107-347 (Dec. 17, 2002); 116 Stat. 2899
Intelligence Reform & Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 Pub. L. 108-458 (Dec. 17, 2004); 118 Stat. 3639
REAL ID Act of 2005 Pub. L. 109-113 (May 11, 2005); 119 Stat. 302
Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 Pub. L. 110-53 (Aug. 3, 2007); 121 Stat. 266
Protect America Act of 2007 Pub. L. 110-55 (Aug. 5, 2007); 121 Stat. 552

Using the U.S. Code to Locate Other National Security Legislation

The official codification of federal law is the United States Code. It organizes all currently in force federal statutes 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 U.S. Code. Subscription legal databases, like Lexis Advance and Westlaw Edge, provide access to annotated versions of the United States Code and other primary law sources, and these annotations also contain summaries of judicial decisions, regulations, and other primary law materials relating to a statute. The following is a list of sources for accessing the U.S. Code:

  • GovInfo - Provides free access to the U.S. Code in both HTML and PDF formats. The PDF format is an authenticated version of the U.S. Code. Access to superseded codes. (Free online access.) 
  • Office of the Law Revision Counsel - Provides free access to the U.S. Code in HTML format, but is not an authenticated version. The OLRC is responsible for the codification of U.S. law into the U.S. Code, and the OLRC's website provides the most updated version of the U.S. Code. (Free online access.)  
  • HeinOnline - Provides access to PDF images of the print version of the U.S. Code. Access to superseded codes. (Available to the UNC Community.)  
  • Westlaw Edge - Provides access to the United States Code Annotated, contains useful commentary and links to relevant statutes, regulations, and cases. (Available to UNC Law Faculty and Students.)
  • Lexis Advance - Provides access to the United States Code Service, contains useful commentary and links to relevant statutes, regulations, and cases. (Available to UNC Law Faculty and Students.)

When using the U.S. Code (or its annotated versions in Westlaw Edge or Lexis Advance) to conduct additional research into national security law, try using the following tools to enhance your research process.

Research Tool Purpose Availability
Index Allows searching through controlled vocabulary for relevant statutes. For example, you can search "national security" as an index term and find statutes related to that phrase.

Westlaw Edge

Lexis Advance

HeinOnline

Popular Names Table Allows searching for statutes via their popular names or acronyms. For example, a search for "FISA" would connect you to the relevant sections in the U.S. Code for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, along with many of its amendments.

Westlaw Edge

Lexis Advance

HeinOnline

Office of the Law Revision Counsel

Credit Line Found at the end of every statutory section in the U.S. Code, the credit line tracks the amendment history for the statute you are viewing. Use this credit line to identify the original piece of legislation (via a Public Law or Statutes at Large citation) and the dates and citations for any amendments. Viewed at the end of a statutory section in the U.S. Code.

Legislative History

Legislative History

Locating Compiled Legislative Histories for National Security Laws

Legislative history is one source for researching legislative intent behind a statute. The Congressional Record, House and Senate Reports, and hearings are all forms of legislative history records that enable a legal researcher to track the discussion and debate surrounding a new law and obtain a clearer understanding of legislators' intent in passing the law.

Compiled legislative histories are useful for legal researchers because they collect all relevant documents into a single place. Compiled legislative histories are available for most of the major national security legislation passed since 9/11. The following resources all provide compiled legislative histories:

  • HeinOnline: HeinOnline's U.S. Federal Legislative History Library allows users to search for compiled legislative histories by Public Law Number or Popular Name. Materials within each compiled legislative history are PDF images of original documents. (Available to the UNC Community.)
  • ProQuest Congressional - Legislative Insight: Provides access to compiled legislative histories. As the most comprehensive database for compiled federal legislative histories, ProQuest Congressional's Legislative Insight provides access to bill versions, Congressional Record entries, House and Senate Reports, committee prints, and presidential signing statements. The database also allows researchers to run keyword searches within the text of all compiled documents. The in-text searching feature can help you sort through voluminous amounts of legislative history and target specific topics of interest. Make sure you proxy into this database using your UNC ONYEN and passwork (via this link), and then enter the Legislative Insight page. (Available to UNC Law Faculty and Students.)

To learn more about conducting federal legislative history research, check out Georgetown Law Library's Legislative History Research Guide.