About the Constitution Annotated
The Constitution Annotated
The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation ("Constitution Annotated" or "CONAN") provides a legal analysis and interpretation of the United States Constitution based on a comprehensive review of Supreme Court case law and, where relevant, historical practices that have defined the text of the Constitution. This regularly updated resource is written in "plain English" and useful for a wide audience: from constitutional scholars to those just beginning to learn about the nation's most important legal document.
In publication for over 100 years, the Constitution Annotated is a comprehensive, government-sanctioned record of the interpretations of the Constitution. Through 2 U.S.C. § 168, Congress has ordered the Librarian of Congress to compile and periodically update the Constitution Annotated to provide essential information to Congress and the public at large. A bound edition of the Constitution Annotated is published every ten years, with cumulative updates printed as a supplement insert every two years. Copies of the bound edition and supplement insert are available to every Member of Congress and shipped to every depository library in the United States.
The most recent decennial bound edition was published in 2012; the next edition will be available in 2022. The most recent supplement insert was published in 2018; the next insert will be available in 2020. For archival PDFs of the Constitution Annotated since 1992, visit the United States Government Printing Office's collection.
How to Cite the Constitution Annotated
Following the latest edition of The Bluebook, cite the Constitution Annotated website as follows: Cong. Research Serv., Constitution of the United States: Analysis and Interpretation, https://constitution.congress.gov (last visited Aug. 16, 2019). Cite a specific page on the Constitution Annotated website as follows: Cong. Research Serv., Passage of Orders, Resolutions, or Votes, Constitution Annotated, https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/essay/artI_S7_C3_1/ALDE_00001053/ (last visited May 11, 2020).
Cite the Constitution Annotated hardbound edition as follows: Cong. Research Serv., Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, S. Doc. No. 112-9 (2012). Cite the most recent Constitution Annotated PDF, complete with the updates of the most recent Constitution Annotated Supplement, as follows: Cong. Research Serv., Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, S. Doc. No. 112-9 (2012 & Supp. 2017), https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/GPO-CONAN-2017/pdf/GPO-CONAN-2017.pdf.
See The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation R. 18.2.2, at 182 (Columbia Law Review Ass’n et al. eds., 20th ed. 2015); id. at R. 13.4, at 138; id. at R. 15.9, at 156.
Our Future Plans
The Library of Congress and the Congressional Research Service (CRS) are undertaking a multi-year project to modernize the Constitution Annotated. CRS attorneys are in the process of revising the content to better enhance its educational value to a broader audience and to reflect the most recent Supreme Court terms. This significant overhaul will be underway over the next few years and as a result, parts of the website are still being developed. Note also that the website content may not match the bound edition and supplement insert exactly.
Each essay on the Constitution Annotated website is associated with a unique serial number based on the essay’s position in the Constitution Annotated hierarchy.
The serial number begins with a prefix: Intro for essays in the "Introduction to the Constitution Annotated" category, Pre for essays in the "Preamble to the Constitution" category, Art for essays in the "Articles of the Constitution" category, Amdt for essays in the "Amendments to the Constitution" category, and finally Appx for essays in the "Appendix to the Constitution Annotated" category. Additional prefixes that may follow are: S if the essay annotates a specific constitutional section and C if the essay annotates a specific constitutional clause.
These prefixes are followed by serial numbers that indicate the position of the essay relative to other essays or group(s) of essays in the Constitution Annotated hierarchy. For example:
- Intro.5 Ratification of Amendments to the Constitution is an essay in the Introduction to the Constitution Annotated (Intro.5) and is the fifth essay (Intro.5) therein.
- Pre.1.2 Preamble: Historical Background is an essay in the Preamble to the Constitution (Pre.1.2), is in the first group (Pre.1.2), and is the second essay (Pre.1.2) therein.
- ArtI.S2.C1.1 Organization of the House of Representatives is an essay annotating Article I (ArtI.S2.C1.1), Section 2 (ArtI.S2.C1.1), Clause 1 (ArtI.S2.C1.1), and is the first essay (ArtI.S2.C1.1) therein.
- Amdt22.214.171.124 Takings Clause: Overview is an essay annotating the Fifth Amendment (Amdt126.96.36.199), is in the fifth group (Amdt188.8.131.52), in the first group within that (Amdt184.108.40.206), and is the first essay (Amdt220.127.116.11) therein.
- Appx.1 Methodologies for the Tables is an essay in the Appendix to the Constitution Annotated (Appx.1) and is the first essay (Appx.1) therein.
For more, see Intro.1.1 Methodology for the Constitution Annotated: Overview et seq.
The Constitution Annotated mainly contains citations to Supreme Court caselaw. Our citations contain hyperlinks to three sources: the Library of Congress, Harvard Law School's Caselaw Access Project, and the official website for the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court cases printed in the U.S. Reporter, the official Supreme Court Reporter, are linked to the U.S. Reports collection hosted by the Library of Congress. This collection contains the official reporter PDFs of Supreme Court case law dated 1754 through 2003. Supreme Court cases after 2003 are linked to the Harvard Law School's Caselaw Access Project ("CAP"), a project by the Harvard Law School Library Innovation Lab to make all published U.S. court decisions freely available to the public online. On this free and public resource, each user can access a maximum of 500 cases per day. The Constitution Annotated also links to CAP for Supreme Court cases not hosted by the Library of Congress and for reported Circuit, District, and State court decisions. Unreported ("slip") opinions are linked to the official website for the Supreme Court of the United States.
The images featured on the homepage are: Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952), oil on canvas, 1940 (carousel feature 1 of 3); Supreme Court Guard, by Harris & Ewing, photograph, 1936 (carousel feature 2 of 3); First Page of the Constitution of the United States of America, by National Archives, high resolution PDF, 1787 (carousel feature 3 of 3); Interior of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, D.C., by Carol M. Highsmith (1946-), photograph, created between 1980 and 2006 (left module); Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Building, by Library of Congress, photograph, 2019 (middle module); On Completion. The Supreme Court Chamber Relief "Justice," by Carlo Franzoni (1789-1819), sculpture, 1817 (right module).
If you have questions about the Constitution Annotated, please Ask a Law Librarian.