COMS 442: Peace and Conflict: Background Information

The following sources provide links to law, court cases, politics, government, and sources for pro/con arguments:

Legal Research

The Oviatt Library's  can help you find court cases, legal codes, and scholarly law review journal articles; as well as background information and definitions of terms.

Primary Sources: Court Cases & Codes

  • LexisNexis Academic
    • Click Look up a Legal Case to quickly locate a court case by name, e.g., United States v. American Library Association or citation, e.g., 539 U.S. 19.
    • Click Search by Content Type to search state and federal court cases, law review journal articles, U.S. and state statutory codes, regulations, and constitutions; and some international cases and legislation. Use  Advanced Options to narrow search by date, jurisdiction, subject area, and segment (title, author, etc.).
  • Supreme Court of the United States (The official web site of the Supreme Court. In addition to the opinions, you can also read or listen to recent oral arguments presented at the Supreme Court.)
  • FDsys (Federal Digital System, U.S. Government Printing Office) (Includes recent primary sources of information from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal government.) 
  • FindLaw Cases and Codes (Search U.S. and State constitutions, statutes, cases and more. Note: FindLaw is not completely free. If you are prompted for a credit card to retrieve information, don't do it! Use LexisNexis Academic legal research to find similar information about court cases or codes.)

Secondary Sources: Law Reviews, Interpretations of the Law, Reference Sources

More Information:

Politics, Government & Law


Government Websites

In addition to the links and information provided on the Library's Government Publications page, the following websites lead to more specific information on government at various levels.

United States




  • Foreign Countries (Includes country information, travel, U.S. foreign policy, U.S. foreign trade)

Finding Pro/Con Arguments in Library & Internet Resources

Always evaluate the quality of the source of the opinion, paying particular attention to the credibility of the author. The following are selected sources to consult. Ask a Librarian for additional help finding pro/con arguments.

Reference Databases

  • Opposing Viewpoints In Context (Gale) (Features "viewpoint articles" (pro/con arguments), topic overviews, full-text magazine, academic journal, and newspaper articles; primary source documents, statistics, images and podcasts, and links to web sites. Watch this video to learn more.)
  • CQ Researcher (Includes pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions, sections on background and chronology; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; and bibliographies of key sources.)

Newspaper Databases 

  • Proquest Newspapers (Select Editorial, Letter, and/or Commentary from the "Document Types" menu.)
  • Ethnic NewsWatch and Ethnic Newswatch: A History(Proquest) (Select Editorial, Letter, and/or Commentary from the "Document Types" menu.)
  • LexisNexis Academic (Use the "Search by Content Type" option and select "All News." Next, click "Advanced Options," and select "Newspapers" or other options from the "Source Type" menu, and "Editorials & Opinions" from the list of article types. You may also limit by publication location and the date. After you click "Apply," enter your search terms in the search box. From the results page, you can sort by relevance or newest to oldest, limit to specific subjects, etc. from the left side of the page, or search within results to further narrow down. Watch this video from LexisNexis. )
  • News on the Web (Links to major news organizations' websites.)


  • ( is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity that has no government affiliations of any kind. Its mission statement is: "Promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format.")
  • Political Advocacy Groups
  • Public Agenda Online

Congressional Hearings

Since the United States Congress has considered what to do about all kinds of controversial issues, and Congressional committees have the power to require people to testify at hearings, they can be a great source of expert opinion (often includes supporting facts).

  • Library Catalog (Search for relevant hearings by keywords, such as "congress and hearing and immigration." Includes links to recent hearings available online and older hearings on microfiche.)
  • FDSys: Federal Digital System (Select "Congressional Hearings" as the collection to be searched and specify your keywords in the full-text search box.)


Public Opinion Polls and Surveys

Public opinion polls and surveys measure attitudes and public opinion on specific issues.

  • Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (Archives of public opinion surveys. Search the "iPOLL Databank," which is organized at the question level, from national public opinion surveys, 1935 to present. Search for datasets using "RoperExpress," which allows downloading of about 75% of public opinion studies conducted in the US and many recent studies from outside of the US.)
  • Public Opinion Polls and Surveys (Additional sources of polls and surveys from a variety of free websites.)