Thursday, October 3, 2019

Congressional Research Service Reports: Key Research Tool


Immprof Margaret Taylor (Wake Forest) recently reminded me of the joys of the Congressional Research Service reports. Super appreciated!

A little background: The Congressional Research Service is "a legislative branch agencies within the Library of Congress." CRS "works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation." Cool!

So, what's up with the reports?

CRS has written reports on all sorts of topics. The "official" search engine is this: But a better search engine in this: When I did a basic search for "immigration" the official search engine gave me 472 hits. The site gave me 1094 documents!

Margaret brings into the classroom -- demonstrating for her students how to find the CRS reports and how to search them. She emphasizes that these reports are "an excellent place to begin research in almost any topic in federal law, as they provide a nonpartisan overview of whatever issue the report addresses." As Taylor notes, the reports tend to be "comprehensive and accurate--and a gold mine for students who believe they want to write a paper or note on a particular topic but don't know much about this area of law."

Margaret also notes that there is a particular CRS report that every law student should read: Statutory Interpretation: Theories, Tools, and Trends. An excellent resource to be sure.

Big ups to Margaret for reminding us all of this terrific resource.

One final sidenote: There are careers to be made with CRS. This may just be a job path that your law students haven't thought of but that could definitely be a pretty sweet gig.


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