Legislative history materials are never mandatory and judges vary greatly in how much persuasive weight they are willing to give to legislative history. In contrast, a published case from a higher court in your jurisdiction is always mandatory and judges are generally willing to consider other cases as persuasive. As a result, a case interpreting a statute is always stronger than the legislative history on its own.
Like legislative history materials, articles and books are always only persuasive. However, cases, articles, and books can all help you better understand the often complicated history behind a statute and quickly identify the most relevant portions of the most relevant legislative history documents.
The fastest way to locate relevant cases, articles, and books interpreting a statute is to use:
Lexis and Westlaw have competing annotations and citators. Although there is some overlap, for the most comprehensive results you should check the annotations and citator for your statute on both Lexis and Westlaw.
To start your research, type the citation to the statute into the main Lexis or Westlaw search box. For example, if you are interested in researching the history of 29 U.S.C. § 1182, type in 29 USC 1182 and hit enter.
Once you've accessed the statute on Westlaw:
Once you've accessed the statute on Lexis:
If you do not have access to Lexis, you can access the Lexis annotations and citator on Nexis Uni:
Additionally, you can access both Lexis' and Westlaw's annotations in print at the law library:
Generally, the annotations and citator on Westlaw, Lexis, and Nexis Uni are the most efficient way to locate cases and law review articles discussing your statute.
However, if you'd like to do so, you can also search cases and law review articles directly on Westlaw, Lexis, and Nexis Uni, using the phrases legislative history or legislative intent and relevant keywords related to your statute.
You can also search for law review articles on the following databases:
Additionally, because Lexis and Westlaw have few articles from non-law journals and only a limited selection of legal books targeted at practicing attorneys, you may want to search separately for political science articles and for scholarly and journalistic books.
You can search for these sources using the following tools: