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Presidential Documents

Authority to Issue Proclamations and Executive Orders

The President has constitutional and statutory authority to issue executive orders and proclamations.  Other official presidential communications, e.g. "signing statements" (made when signing a bill into law) or explanations of vetoes of legislation, are also of interest to legal resarchers.  a signing statement, for example, is generally considered part of a statute's legislative history even though it comes from the President and not from the Congress.

Official Compilations

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States

Begins with the papers of President Hoover, skips President Roosevelt (whose papers were published separately). and continues to present. They contain most of the President's public messages, statements, speeches, and news conference remarks.  Proclamations and executive orders are included from 1977 on. American Presidency Project  HeinOnline U.S. Presidential Library   Both also contain the Public Papers and Addreses of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


Weekly/Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents

Weekly from 1965 through January 29, 2009 and daily since then, the Compilation of Presidential Documents was issued every Monday by the Office of the Federal Register and is now a daily publication.  Sources include FDsys , HeinOnline , and Westlaw.  


Preferred Citation: The Bluebook states that preferred citation is to the Public Papers if the document appears in both sources. 

Types of Documents

Proclamations: formal public announcements, often relating to ceremonial or celebratory occasions, that may have significant legal consequences.

Executive Orders: Carrying the force of law, executive orders direct an agency or official to take a specific action. For example, an executive order created the plan of succession for the Department of Homeland Security.

Proclamations and Executive Orders: Sources

In addition to the general compilations of presidential documents described elsewhere in thie Guide, proclamations and executive orderes are found in:

Federal Register Includes proclamations and executive orders since 1936

Code of Federal Regulations Proclamations and executive orders appear in Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  Since 1976, Title 3 of the CFR has been published as a separate annual volume contining all of the presdidential documents published in the Federal Register during the previous year.  Previous issues covered various time periods.

United States Statutes at Large: includes proclamations but not executive orders. See HeinOnline (1789-2009). Also in print in the D'Angelo Law Library 2nd Floor Reading Room, XXKF50.U55.

United States Code Includes some proclamations and executive orders following the statutory sections to which they relate.  There are tables that show where specific proclamations and executive orders can be found. See HeinOnline .  Also in print in the D'Angelo Law Library 2nd Floor Reading Room , XXKF 62 2006 .A2.

Westlaw and WestlawNext: Home > Administrative Decisions & Guidance > Federal Administrative Decisions & Guidance > Executive Office of the President Executive and administrative orders, proclamations, trade agreement letters, and other documents released by the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Coverage begins with 1936.

LexisNexis: Legal > Federal Legal - U.S. > Find Statutes, Regulations, Administrative Materials & Court Rules > Executive Branch Materials > Executive Orders (from 1936)

<font ">American Presidency Project: All proclamations since 1789 and all executive orders since 1826. 

President's website: has all proclamations and executive orders of the current administration in chronological order. 

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