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Colorado Law Review LibGuide

This guide will serve the needs of prospective and current members of the University of Colorado Law Review. This publication focuses on editing and publishing general-interest legal scholarship written by professors, practitioners, officials and student

The Legislative Process

Prior to examining citation rules, it is important to have a basic understanding of how federal statutes are made. 




This visual, produced by Loyola Marymount University, gives an overview of the legislative process. 


Rules 12 & 13: Bills, Public Laws and Session Laws

Bills and Resolutions:  proposed laws. Bluebook Rule 13.2 addresses citation of proposed federal laws.

  • S. 516, 105th Cong. § 2 (1997).   
    • This refers to Senate Bill 516 (the number of the bill and the chamber of origin), which was offered in the 105th Congress (Congress runs in two year sessions, so this session took place from 1997-1999), the section of the bill (if any), and the year of publication. 
  • H.R. 422, 106th Cong. (1999). 
    • This refers to House Resolution 422, which was offered in the 106th Congress, and the year of publication. 

Public Law:  if a bill is passed by both chambers and signed by the President, it is assigned a public law number.  Public laws are described by the congress in which they were enacted and their sequential number.  

  • Pub. L. No. 91-190
    • This refers to the 91st Congress and the190 identifies it as the 190th law passed in that Congress. 

Session Laws: Public laws from each Congress are printed in the United States Statues at Large (abbreviated as Stat.), a hard bound multi-volume set.  There is often considerable lag time between the publication of a Public Law and its consolidation in the United States Statutes at Large volumes. 

Bluebook Rule 12.4 states that when you are citing an entire legislative act, give the first page of the session law where the act begins. 

  • National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Pub. L. No. 91-190, 83 Stat. 852 (1970)

Hearings & Debates: Rule 13

Prior to passage, many laws go through a series of congressional hearings and debates. These are a rich source of legislative history.  


Committee Hearings.  Bluebook Rule 13.1 and 13.3.  Provide the subject matter title, the bill number(s), the subcommittee name (if any), the committee name, the number of the Congress, the page number(s), and the year of publication. 


Committee names can be abbreviated according to Tables 6, 9 and 10. 


Congressional Debates:  Bluebook Rule 13.5 directs you to cite to the Congressional Record for any debates taking place after 1873. 


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