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Bluebook Citation: Legislative Resources

Bluebook Quick Reference

B21 (p.17):  Bluepages example for Administrative Rules and Regulations

Rule 13 (p. 135):  Rule for Legislative Materials.

Rule 14 (p. 143): Rule for Administrative and Executive Materials.

T1.2 (p. 236): Table of abbreviations and guidance for citing Federal Administrative and Executive Materials.

The Basics

Legislative resources can be split into two components:  legislative history and administrative resources.  Legislative history documents provide background and information about whether a bill becomes a law or not.  Administrative resources are documents published by governement agencies that make approved bills operational.

Legislative History

Whether citing to federal or state materials, citing legislative history usually follows the same rules since state materials will generally mirror federal materials in composition. In general, a bill follows a certain path to become a law (see the Library of Congress' site "How our Laws are Made" for a detailed explanation).  Rule 13 of the Bluebook indicates that you will generally include:

  • The title
  • Abbreviated name of the house
  • The number of the congress
  • The number assigned to the material
  • The year of publication

However, what stage the document (bill) is in when you cite it will determine how the Bluebook says to cite.  The different stages are (and corresponding Bluebook sections):

  • Bill is introduced (unenacted bill) --> Rule 13.2(a)
    • At this stage the unenacted bill can be reprinted in USCCAN, so be sure to give a parallel citation.
  • Bill goes to committee hearing --> Rule 13.3
  • Bill goes to Senate for approval (session law) --> Rule 12.4
    • Bill is then added to US Statutes at Large, so include a parallel citation.
  • If the bill is approved and codified, add a parenthetical citation enumerating this --> Rule 12.4(f)

NOTE: Table 9 will provide reference to abbreviations for words used in legislative citation.

Administrative Materials

These usually consist of bills that have become rules and regulations of the federal administrative agencies, or executive materials like presidential proclamations and executive orders.  The primary sources for administrative law are the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and the Federal Register (FR).  The CFR is composed of codified rules and regulations, and is organized very similarly to the USC.  Therefore, the citation style, found in Rule 14.2(a), will be very close to that of the USC:

  • Title number
  • C.F.R.
  • Section number
  • Year

The Bluebook requires that you cite to the CFR when possible.  If this is not possible, cite to the FR and indicate when the rule will be codified.  Rule 14.2(b) says to cite just as you would the codified rule, but include the full date of the rule proposal to the date parenthetical:

  • Title number
  • F.R.
  • Section number
  • Full date

NOTE:  Sometimes a pinpoint page number is needed if you are referring to a specific part of the rule.  Add an explanatory note to the end of the citation if the pinpoint cite does not obviously indicate your point.

Proclamations and executive orders are also considered administrative materials.  T1.2 explains the rules for citing these documents.  The citation format will be similar to that of the CFR and FR (where these will also be published).  The only difference will be that instead of a section number in the citation you will have a page number.  This is because executive orders are not assigned section numbers in the CFR and FR.

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Lorelle Anderson
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Subjects:Law