The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a federal executive department of the U.S. government, responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice in the United States, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries. The department was formed in 1870 during the Ulysses S. Grant administration.
The Department of Justice administers several federal law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The department is responsible for investigating instances of financial fraud, representing the United States government in legal matters (such as in cases before the Supreme Court), and running the federal prison system. The department is also responsible for reviewing the conduct of local law enforcement as directed by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
The department is headed by the United States Attorney General, who is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate and is a member of the Cabinet. The current Attorney General is William Barr.
|United States Department of Justice|
Seal of the Department
Flag of the Department
The Robert F. Kennedy Building is the headquarters of the Department of Justice
|Formed||July 1, 1870|
|Jurisdiction||U.S. federal government|
|Headquarters||Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building|
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C., United States
|Motto||"Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur" (Latin: "Who prosecutes on behalf of justice (or the Lady Justice)"|
|Annual budget||$31 billion (2015)|
The office of the Attorney General was established by the Judiciary Act of 1789 as a part-time job for one person, but grew with the bureaucracy. At one time, the Attorney General gave legal advice to the U.S. Congress as well as the President, but in 1819 the Attorney General began advising Congress alone to ensure a manageable workload. Until March 3, 1853, the salary of the Attorney General was set by statute at less than the amount paid to other Cabinet members. Early Attorneys General supplemented their salaries by running private law practices, often arguing cases before the courts as attorneys for paying litigants.
Following unsuccessful efforts (in 1830 and 1846) to make Attorney General a full-time job, in 1869, the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, led by Congressman William Lawrence, conducted an inquiry into the creation of a "law department" headed by the Attorney General and also composed of the various department solicitors and United States attorneys. On February 19, 1868, Lawrence introduced a bill in Congress to create the Department of Justice. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law on June 22, 1870.
Grant appointed Amos T. Akerman as Attorney General and Benjamin H. Bristow as America's first Solicitor General the same week that Congress created the Department of Justice. The Department's immediate function was to preserve civil rights. It set about fighting against domestic terrorist groups who had been using both violence and litigation to oppose the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.
Both Akerman and Bristow used the Department of Justice to vigorously prosecute Ku Klux Klan members in the early 1870s. In the first few years of Grant's first term in office there were 1000 indictments against Klan members with over 550 convictions from the Department of Justice. By 1871, there were 3000 indictments and 600 convictions with most only serving brief sentences while the ringleaders were imprisoned for up to five years in the federal penitentiary in Albany, New York. The result was a dramatic decrease in violence in the South. Akerman gave credit to Grant and told a friend that no one was "better" or "stronger" than Grant when it came to prosecuting terrorists. George H. Williams, who succeeded Akerman in December 1871, continued to prosecute the Klan throughout 1872 until the spring of 1873 during Grant's second term in office. Williams then placed a moratorium on Klan prosecutions partially because the Justice Department, inundated by cases involving the Klan, did not have the manpower to continue prosecutions.
The "Act to Establish the Department of Justice" drastically increased the Attorney General's responsibilities to include the supervision of all United States Attorneys, formerly under the Department of the Interior, the prosecution of all federal crimes, and the representation of the United States in all court actions, barring the use of private attorneys by the federal government. The law also created the office of Solicitor General to supervise and conduct government litigation in the Supreme Court of the United States.
In 1884, control of federal prisons was transferred to the new department, from the Department of Interior. New facilities were built, including the penitentiary at Leavenworth in 1895, and a facility for women located in West Virginia, at Alderson was established in 1924.
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order which gave the Department of Justice responsibility for the "functions of prosecuting in the courts of the United States claims and demands by, and offsenses [sic] against, the Government of the United States, and of defending claims and demands against the Government, and of supervising the work of United States attorneys, marshals, and clerks in connection therewith, now exercised by any agency or officer..."
The U.S. Department of Justice building was completed in 1935 from a design by Milton Bennett Medary. Upon Medary's death in 1929, the other partners of his Philadelphia firm Zantzinger, Borie and Medary took over the project. On a lot bordered by Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues and Ninth and Tenth Streets, Northwest, it holds over 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of space. The sculptor C. Paul Jennewein served as overall design consultant for the entire building, contributing more than 50 separate sculptural elements inside and outside.
Various efforts, none entirely successful, have been made to determine the original intended meaning of the Latin motto appearing on the Department of Justice seal, Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur (literally "Who For Lady Justice Strives"). It is not even known exactly when the original version of the DOJ seal itself was adopted, or when the motto first appeared on the seal. The most authoritative opinion of the DOJ suggests that the motto refers to the Attorney General (and thus, by extension, to the Department of Justice) "who prosecutes on behalf of justice (or the Lady Justice)".
The motto's conception of the prosecutor (or government attorney) as being the servant of justice itself finds concrete expression in a similarly-ordered English-language inscription ("THE UNITED STATES WINS ITS POINT WHENEVER JUSTICE IS DONE ITS CITIZENS IN THE COURTS") in the above-door paneling in the ceremonial rotunda anteroom just outside the Attorney General's office in the Department of Justice Main Building in Washington, D.C. The building was renamed in honor of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in 2001. It is sometimes referred to as "Main Justice".
(as formal division)
(originally called the Claims Division;
adopted current name on February 13, 1953)
|Civil Rights Division||1957|
|Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD)
(originally called the Land and Natural Resources Division;
adopted current name in 1990)
|Justice Management Division (JMD)
(originally called the Administrative Division;
adopted current name in 1985)
|National Security Division (NSD)||2007|
|War Division (defunct)||1942|
Several federal law enforcement agencies are administered by the Department of Justice:
In March 2003, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service was abolished and its functions transferred to the United States Department of Homeland Security. The Executive Office for Immigration Review and the Board of Immigration Appeals, which review decisions made by government officials under Immigration and Nationality law, remain under jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. Similarly the Office of Domestic Preparedness left the Justice Department for the Department of Homeland Security, but only for executive purposes. The Office of Domestic Preparedness is still centralized within the Department of Justice, since its personnel are still officially employed within the Department of Justice.
In 2003, the Department of Justice created LifeAndLiberty.gov, a website that supported the USA PATRIOT Act. It was criticized by government watchdog groups for its alleged violation of U.S. Code Title 18 Section 1913, which forbids money appropriated by Congress to be used to lobby in favor of any law, actual or proposed. The website has since been taken offline.
|Program||Funding (in millions)|
|Management and Finance|
|Justice Information Sharing Technology||$26|
|Administrative Reviews and Appeals
|Office of the Inspector General||$89|
|United States Parole Commission||$13|
|National Security Division||$92|
|Office of the Solicitor General||$12|
|Environmental and Natural Resources Division||$112|
|Office of Legal Counsel||$7|
|Civil Rights Division||$162|
|United States Attorneys||$1,955|
|United States Bankruptcy Trustees||$226|
|Law Enforcement Activities|
|United States Marshals Service||$2,668|
|Federal Bureau of Investigation||$8,347|
|Drug Enforcement Administration||$2,018|
|Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives||$1,201|
|Federal Bureau of Prisons||$6,894|
|Office of Justice Programs||$1,427|
|Office of Community Oriented Policing Services||$248|
|Office on Violence Against Women||$410|
The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is an administrative appellate body within the Executive Office for Immigration Review of the United States Department of Justice.
The BIA reviews the decisions of the U.S. immigration courts, some decisions of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and immigration violation arrests by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. BIA decisions are the final administrative action in a given case, and the next stage of appeal after a BIA decision is usually in the United States courts of appeals if an appeal is allowed by statute.
Most opinions of the BIA are unpublished and do not apply outside of the cases in which they were issued. However, a limited number of BIA decisions are selected for publication in the Administrative Decisions under the Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States. There are currently 28 volumes of administrative precedent decisions under the Immigration and Nationality laws encompassing decisions dating back to 1940. BIA precedent decisions are legally binding on all components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A precedent decision may be overruled by a published decision of the Attorney General, by a Federal court, by a subsequent BIA precedent decision, or by a change in the law.
The BIA is located in Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia, and, as of April 2009, had 14 board members, who are administrative judges appointed by the U.S. Attorney General. The size of the full BIA varies from time to time, depending on resignations, retirements, and new appointments; it may have up to fifteen board members under the current authorizing legislation. Decisions issued by the BIA are by made up of three-member panels in limited circumstances. Otherwise, the vast majority of cases are decided by single panel members. A single panel member can also use a process called summary affirmance, which is used in 10 percent of cases (as of 2008), to affirm the lower court without issuing a written decision.The BIA is notable in that one need not be an attorney to appear before it representing a client. However, non-attorneys must be part of a BIA-recognized organization (generally a nonprofit), and also have obtained BIA accreditation as individuals. A practice manual for appearing before the BIA is available from the U.S. Department of Justice. A handbook explaining the accreditation and recognition process is available from the nonprofit Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).Executive Office for Immigration Review
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is an office of the United States Department of Justice and is responsible for adjudicating all immigration cases in the United States. EOIR oversees immigration courts in the United States through the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge. Additionally, the Board of Immigration Appeals, which hears appeals from immigration courts, is part of EOIR.
The chief function of EOIR is to conduct removal proceedings, which are administrative proceedings to determine the removability and admissibility of individuals in the United States. Removal proceedings are conducted in immigration courts. As of September 28, 2016, there are fifty-eight immigration courts throughout the United States.
Immigration judges are thus employees of the Justice Department in the executive branch, rather than part of the judicial branch defined by Article 3 of the United States Constitution. That status is the subject of ongoing debate among immigration and legal scholars.National Institute of Corrections
The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) is an agency of the United States government. It is part of the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons.NIC provides support programs to assist federal, state, and local corrections agencies. Additionally the NIC provides funds to support programs that are in line with its key initiatives.The NIC was created by the United States Congress in 1974 on the recommendation of the National Conference on Corrections convened by John N. Mitchell in 1971. Mitchell called for the conference as a result of public pressure following the riot at New York's Attica Correctional Facility in 1971.Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building
Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building is the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the United States Department of Justice.
The building is located at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, on a trapezoidal lot on the block bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue to the north, Constitution Avenue to the south, 9th Street to the east, and 10th Street NW to the west, in the Federal Triangle. It is located west of the National Archives Building, east of the Internal Revenue Service Building, north of the National Mall, and south of the J. Edgar Hoover Building. The building is owned by the General Services Administration. It comprises seven floors and 1,200,000 sq ft (110,000 m2). It houses Department of Justice offices, including the office of the United States Attorney General. Completed in 1935, it was renamed after the 64th Attorney General of the United States, Robert F. Kennedy, in 2001.Solicitor General of the United States
The Solicitor General of the United States is the fourth-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice. The current Solicitor General, Noel Francisco, took office on September 19, 2017.The United States Solicitor General represents the federal government of the United States before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Solicitor General determines the legal position that the United States will take in the Supreme Court. In addition to supervising and conducting cases in which the government is a party, the office of the Solicitor General also files amicus curiae briefs in cases in which the federal government has a significant interest in the legal issue. The office of the Solicitor General argues on behalf of the government in virtually every case in which the United States is a party, and also argues in most of the cases in which the government has filed an amicus brief. In the federal courts of appeal, the Office of the Solicitor General reviews cases decided against the United States and determines whether the government will seek review in the Supreme Court. The Solicitor General's office also reviews cases decided against the United States in the federal district courts and approves every case in which the government files an appeal.Todd M. Hughes
Todd Michael Hughes (born November 1966) is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.United States Assistant Attorney General
Many of the divisions and offices of the United States Department of Justice are headed by an Assistant Attorney General.
The President of the United States appoints individuals to the position of Assistant Attorney General with the advice and consent of the Senate. United States Department of Justice components that are led by an Assistant Attorney General are:
Civil Rights Division
National Security Division
Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD)
Justice Management Division (JMD)
Office of Justice Programs (OJP)
Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)
Office of Legal Policy (OLP)
Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA)Assistant Attorneys General report either to the Deputy Attorney General (in the case of the Criminal Division, the Justice Management Division and the Offices of Legal Counsel, Legislative Affairs, and Legal Policy) or to the Associate Attorney General (in the case of the Antitrust, Civil, Civil Rights, Environment & Natural Resources, and Tax Divisions and the Office of Justice Programs).United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division
The United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division is a law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing the antitrust laws of the United States. It shares jurisdiction over civil antitrust cases with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and often works jointly with the FTC to provide regulatory guidance to businesses. However, the Antitrust Division also has the power to file criminal cases against willful violators of the antitrust laws. The Antitrust Division also works with competition regulators in other countries.United States Department of Justice Civil Division
The United States Department of Justice Civil Division represents the United States, its departments and agencies, members of Congress, cabinet officers, and other federal employees. Its litigation reflects the diversity of government activities, involving, for example, the defense of challenges to Presidential actions; national security issues; benefit programs; energy policies; commercial issues such as contract disputes, banking insurance, patents, fraud, and debt collection; all manner of accident and liability claims; enforcement of immigration laws; and civil and criminal violations of consumer protection laws. Each year, Division attorneys handle thousands of cases that collectively involve billions of dollars in claims and recoveries. The Division confronts significant policy issues, which often rise to constitutional dimensions, in defending and enforcing various Federal programs and actions. The Civil Division is currently led by Principal Deputy Assistant General Benjamin C. Mizer, filling the vacancy created by Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery.United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division is the institution within the federal government responsible for enforcing federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion, and national origin. The Division was established on December 9, 1957, by order of Attorney General William P. Rogers, after the Civil Rights Act of 1957 created the office of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, who has since then headed the division. The head of the Civil Rights Division is an Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights (AAG-CR) appointed by the President of the United States. The current AAG-CR is Eric Dreiband.United States Department of Justice Criminal Division
The United States Department of Justice Criminal Division is a federal agency of the United States Department of Justice that develops, enforces, and supervises the application of all federal criminal laws in the United States, except those specifically assigned to other divisions. Criminal Division attorneys prosecute many nationally significant cases and formulate and implement criminal enforcement policy. Division attorneys also provide advice and guidance to the Attorney General of the United States, the United States Congress, and the White House on matters of criminal law.United States Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division
The United States Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) is one of seven litigating components of the U.S. Department of Justice. ENRD's mandate is to enforce civil and criminal environmental laws and programs protecting the health and environment of the United States, and to defend suits challenging those laws and programs.United States Department of Justice National Security Division
The United States Department of Justice National Security Division (NSD) is the division of the DOJ that handles all national security functions of the department. Created by the 2005 USA PATRIOT Act reauthorization, the division consolidated all of the department's national security and intelligence functions into a single division. The division is headed by the Assistant Attorney General for National Security.United States Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel
The Office of Special Counsel was an office of the United States Department of Justice established by provisions in the Ethics in Government Act that expired in 1999. The provisions were replaced by Department of Justice regulation 28 CFR Part 600, which created the successor office of special counsel. The current regulations were drafted by former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal.The Independent Counsel was an independent prosecutor—distinct from the Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice—who provided reports to the United States Congress under 28 U.S.C. § 595.United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Justice (DOJ) is the Office of the Inspector General specific to the United States Department of Justice that is responsible for conducting nearly all of the investigations of DOJ employees and programs. The office has several hundred employees, reporting to the Inspector General. Michael E. Horowitz has held the post since 2012.The OIG conducts independent investigations, audits, inspections, and special reviews of United States Department of Justice personnel and programs to detect and deter waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct, and to promote integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in Department of Justice operations.
The OIG's investigative jurisdiction includes all allegations of criminal wrongdoing or administrative misconduct by DOJ employees, except for allegations of misconduct that "relate to the exercise of the authority of an attorney to investigate, litigate, or provide legal advice," which are referred to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) unless the allegation concerns attorneys who work for OPR.United States Department of Justice Tax Division
The United States Department of Justice Tax Division is responsible for the prosecution of both civil and criminal cases arising under the Internal Revenue Code and other tax laws of the United States. The Division began operation in 1934, under United States Attorney General Homer Stille Cummings, who charged it with primary responsibility for supervising all federal litigation involving internal revenue (following an executive order from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt).United States Deputy Attorney General
The United States Deputy Attorney General is the second-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice and oversees the day-to-day operation of the Department. The Deputy Attorney General acts as Attorney General during the absence of the Attorney General.
The Deputy Attorney General is a political appointee of the President of the United States and takes office after confirmation by the United States Senate. The position was created in 1950. Since April 26, 2017, Rod Rosenstein has been Deputy Attorney General.United States Federal Witness Protection Program
The United States Federal Witness Protection Program, also known as the Witness Security Program or WITSEC, is a witness protection program administered by the United States Department of Justice and operated by the United States Marshals Service that is designed to protect threatened witnesses before, during, and after a trial.
A few territories, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Washington D.C. have their own witness protection programs for crimes not covered by the federal program. The state-run programs provide less extensive protections than the federal program.United States Trustee Program
The United States Trustee Program is a component of the United States Department of Justice that is responsible for overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases and private trustees. The applicable federal law is found at 28 U.S.C. § 586 and 11 U.S.C. § 101, et seq.
In addition to the twenty-one United States Trustees, the program is administered by the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST), located in Washington, D.C., and 95 field offices. The United States Trustee is the federal official charged with enforcing civil bankruptcy laws in the United States.