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Legal Research

This research guide introduces users to the legal research process. If you're new to legal research, it's best to follow this guide step-by-step.

Statutes Gallery

Roe v Wage Historical Case Series Image

Federal Statute: Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

Federal Statute: Equal Marriage

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court was asked to determine the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage licenses as well as state bans on recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. On June 26, 2015, the court ruled by a 5-4 vote that the Fourteenth Amendment obliges states to license same-sex marriages and to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Freedom of Choice Act Image

State Statute: Freedom of Choice Act

Anti-choice groups collected petitions to force the measures contained in the new law onto the 1992 ballot with the intent to repeal the law, but Maryland voters overwhelmingly approved the law.  This law ensures women’s access to pre-viability abortion services and would remain in effect even if Roe v. Wade were overturned.  Sandy Banisky, Voters Reaffirm Stand Favoring Abortion Choice, Balt. Sun, Nov. 5, 1992.

State Infographic Coming Soon Image

Maryland Marijuana Decriminalization

In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly, controlled by Democrats, passed SB 517, which decriminalized the possession of marijuana paraphernalia (such as rolling papers, pipes and bongs) and decriminalized the smoking of marijuana in public. The measure makes both civil offenses punishable by a fine of up to $500. Republican Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the bill, but the Assembly overrode the veto.

Step 3 Overview

Step 3: Statues

Following Step 2Statutes are laws written and enacted by the legislative branch of government. Statutes, also known as acts, are laws passed by a legislature.  Federal statutes are laws enacted by Congress with (and in some circumstances without) the approval of the President. Federal statutes are published in three formats:  (1) initially as individual slip laws, (2) in compilations of slip laws known as session laws, and (3) as codified law incorporated into a code. Most new laws are created through statutes (as opposed to being created by judges through case opinions); therefore, it is important that you realize that you will frequently begin your research projects by looking at a statute, rather than at cases.