Primary Documents: U.S. Legal Resources Research Guide


A constitution describes the standards of conduct for a government and its citizens. It defines the basic rights of individuals and sets out the activities and general powers of government. The power to pass laws is exercised by legislature in the form of statutes.

North Carolina State Constitution

KFN7430 1943 .A24 2008 V.21 (D.H. Hill, Reference)

Cite as: N.C. Const. of 190 art. V, § 7

United States Constitution

KF4527 1987 (D.H. Hill, Reference)

Cite as: U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 2



Statutes are created through the legislative process.

1. An Idea: A citizen or lobbyist presents an idea for a new law or amendment to a member of the North Carolina General Assembly or the United States Congress. If that legislator approves, he or she drafts a bill.

2. A Bill: The legislator introduces the bill into the House of Representatives or the Sentate and it is voted upon.

3. An Act: If the bill passes in both the House and the Senate and is not vetoed, it becomes law and is called an Act.

4. Session Laws: At the close of a given session of a legislature, which is two years for both the North Carolina and Federal governments, all adopted Acts are collectively published as "session laws".


North Carolina Session Laws

KFN7425 .A243 (D.H. Hill, 5th Floor)

Cite as: 1990 N.C. Sess. Laws 431

United States Statutes at Large

AE 2.111, S 7.9 (D.H. Hill, 2nd Floor)

Cite as: 94 Stat. 168 (1975)


5. Codes: State and Federal governments compile all statutes currently in effect within their jurisdictions into codes. Since they are organized by subject in a master index, codes are easier to search than session laws, which require the researcher to know the year that a bill passed into law.


North Carolina General Statutes

KFN7430 1943 .A24 (D.H. Hill, Reference)

LexisNexis Academic, NC Statutes

Cite as: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-1367 (1990)

United States Code

AE 2.111, S 7.9 (D.H. Hill, 2nd Floor)

LexisNexis Academic, Federal Statutes

Cite as: 16 U.S.C. 462 (1988)


Administrative Rules and Regulations

The North Carolina General Assembly and United States Congress often pass laws which require an administrative entity to oversee programs and create guidelines for compliance with the laws enacted. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and the Federal Communications Commission are examples of theses entities.

North Carolina Adminstrative Code

KFN7435 2000 .A234 (D.H. Hill, 5th Floor)

Cite as: N.C.Admin.Code tit. 10, r. 44.6215 (July 1990)


North Carolina Register

LexisNexis Academic, NC Register

Cite as: 5 N.C.Reg. 525 (7/16/1990)

Code of Federal Regulations

LexisNexis Academic

Cite as: 35 C.F.R. § 54.3 (1990)


Federal Register

LexisNexis Academic, Federal Register

Cite as: 112 Fed. Reg. 88979 (1989)


Court Reports

Court reports include the published decisions of courts on specific issues raised in disputes (i.e. cases). The first level of the court system is the trial court, which are the district and superior courts in North Carolina and the district courts in the federal court system. Unlike decisions in U.S. District Courts, a North Carolina trial court decision is not published unless an apeal is filed with a higher court. In both North Carolina and federal court systems, the higher courts are comprised of a court of appeals and a supreme court. In both cases, the decisions of these higher courts are published.

U.S. District Court reports

Federal Supplement, KF120 .F42 (D.H. Hill, 5th Floor)

West's Federal Supplement, KF120 .F42

Cite as: 865 F. Supp. 1462 (E.D.N.C. 1985)


NC Court of Appeals Reports

KFN7448.9 .A2 (D.H. Hill, 5th Floor)


Cite as: 145 N.C.App. 431 (1989)


NC Supreme Court Reports

KFN7445 .A2 (D.H. Hill, 5th Floor)

LexisNexis Academic, Federal & State Cases

Cite as: 367 N.C. 123 (1978)

West's North Carolina Digest (D.H. Hill, 5th Floor)
Covers both NC Appeals and Supreme Court decisions

Cite as: 10 N.C. D 2d § 39

U.S. Courts of Appeal reports
Federal Reporter, KF105 .F42 (D.H. Hill, 5th Floor)

West's Federal Reporter, KF105 .F42

Cite as: 435 F.2d 168 (4th Cir. 1978)


U.S. Supreme Court reports

United States reports, Ju 6.8/1 (D.H. Hill, 2nd Floor)

LexisNexis Academic, Federal & State Cases

Cite as: 451 U.S. 184 (1986)