United States Department of Justice

Department of Justice

Seal of the United States Department of Justice

Flag of the United States Department of Justice

The Robert F. Kennedy Building in August 2006. The building serves as the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Department overview
Formed July 1, 1870 (1870-07-01)
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C., United States
38°53′36″N 77°1′30″W / 38.89333°N 77.02500°W / 38.89333; -77.02500Coordinates: 38°53′36″N 77°1′30″W / 38.89333°N 77.02500°W / 38.89333; -77.02500
Motto "Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur" (Latin: "Who prosecutes on behalf of justice (or the Lady Justice)"[1][2]
Employees 113,543 (2012)
Annual budget $27.1 billion (2013)[3]
Department executives
Website www.justice.gov

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 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 Loretta Lynch.


The U.S. Attorney General was initially a one-person, part-time job. It was established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, but this grew with the bureaucracy. At one time the Attorney General gave legal advice to the U.S. Congress as well as the President, but this Congressional advice-giving had stopped by 1819 on account of the workload involved.[4] To supplement their salaries, which until March 3, 1853, were set by statute at less than the amounts paid to other members of the Cabinet, early Attorneys General, while in office, engaged in extensive private practice of law, often arguing cases before the courts in their private capacities, as attorneys for private (paying) litigants.[5]

Following unsuccessful efforts (in 1830 and 1846) to put the Attorney General's Office on a full-time footing,[6] 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. This first bill was unsuccessful, however, as Lawrence could not devote enough time to ensure its passage owing to his occupation with the Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.

A second bill was introduced to Congress by Rhode Island Representative Thomas Jenckes on February 25, 1870, and both the Senate and House passed the bill. President Ulysses S. Grant then signed the bill into law on June 22, 1870.[7] The Department of Justice officially began operations on July 1, 1870.[4] Just prior to the Civil War, in February of 1861, the Confederate States of America established a Department of Justice.[8] Though "[t]he second American department of justice was brought into being on July 1, 1870 [, ] fifty years of amendments were required before it reached a status comparable to that of its Confederate predecessor." [9]

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.[10] The law did create a new office, that of Solicitor General, to supervise and conduct government litigation in the Supreme Court of the United States.[11]

With the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887, the federal government began to take on some law enforcement responsibilities, with the Department of Justice tasked to carry out these duties.[12]

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.[13]

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order which conveyed, to the Department of Justice, the 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....".[14]


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 one million square feet 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 meaning of the Latin motto appearing on the Department of Justice seal, Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur. 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)."[15] 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.[16]

The building was renamed in honor of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in 2001. It is sometimes referred to as "Main Justice."[17]


Organizational chart for the Dept. of Justice. (Click to enlarge)

Leadership offices


Division Date Established
(as formal division)
Antitrust Division 1933[18]
Civil Division
(originally called the Claims Division;
adopted current name on February 13, 1953)[19][20]
Civil Rights Division 1957[21]
Criminal Division 1919[22]
Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD)
(originally called the Land and Natural Resources Division;
adopted current name in 1990)[23]
Justice Management Division (JMD)
(originally called the Administrative Division;
adopted current name in 1985)[24]
National Security Division (NSD) 2007[25]
Tax Division 1933[26]
War Division (defunct) 1942
(disestablished 1945)[27]

Law enforcement agencies

Several federal law enforcement agencies are administered by the Department of Justice:


Other offices and programs

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.[37] The website has since been taken offline.

Finances and budget

The Justice Department was authorized a budget for Fiscal Year 2015 of approximately $21 billion. The budget authorization is broken down as follows:[38]

Program Funding (in millions)
Management and Finance
General Administration $129
Justice Information Sharing Technology $26
Administrative Reviews and Appeals
Executive Office for Immigration Review
Office of the Pardon Attorney
Office of the Inspector General $89
United States Parole Commission $13
National Security Division $92
Legal Activities
Office of the Solicitor General $12
Tax Division $109
Criminal Division $202
Civil Division $298
Environmental and Natural Resources Division $112
Office of Legal Counsel $7
Civil Rights Division $162
Antitrust 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
Interpol-Washington Office $32
Grant Programs
Office of Justice Programs $1,427
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services $248
Office on Violence Against Women $410
Mandatory Spending
Mandatory Spending $4,011
TOTAL $20,978

See also

Notes and references

  1. Revision of Original Letter Dated 14 February 1992, United States Department of Justice.
  2. Madan, Rafael (Fall 2008). "The Sign and Seal of Justice" (PDF). Ave Maria Law Review. 7: 123, 191–192. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  3. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2013/assets/justice.pdf
  4. 1 2 "United States Department of Justice: About DOJ".
  5. Madan, Rafael (Fall 2008). "The Sign and Seal of Justice" (PDF). Ave Maria Law Review. 7: 123, 127–136. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  6. Madan, Rafael (Fall 2008). "The Sign and Seal of Justice" (PDF). Ave Maria Law Review. 7: 123, 132–134. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  7. "Public Acts of the Forty First Congress".
  8. Act of February 21, 1861, An Act to organize and establish an Executive Department to be known as the Department of Justice, Prov. C.S. Cong.
  9. William M. Robinson, Justice in Grey, A History of the Judicial System of the Confederate States of America 38, additionally citing at n.33, Albert Langeluttig, The Department of Justice of the United States 12 (1927), and Arthur J. Dodge, Origin and Development of the Office of the Attorney General, House Doc. 510, 70th Cong., 2d Sess., at 65-78 (U.S. G.P.O., 1929).
  10. "Act to Establish the Department of Justice". Memory.loc.gov. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
  11. http://www.justice.gov/about
  12. Langeluttig, Albert (1927). The Department of Justice of the United States. Johns Hopkins Press. pp. 9–14.
  13. Langeluttig, Albert (1927). The Department of Justice of the United States. Johns Hopkins Press. pp. 14–15.
  14. Executive Order 6166, Sec. 5 (June 12, 1933), at .
  15. Madan, Rafael (Fall 2008). "The Sign and Seal of Justice" (PDF). Ave Maria Law Review. 7: 123, 125, 191–192, 203. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  16. Madan, Rafael (Fall 2008). "The Sign and Seal of Justice" (PDF). Ave Maria Law Review. 7: 123, 192–203. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  18. History of the Antitrust Division, United States Department of Justice.
  19. 1 2 Gregory C. Sisk & Michael F. Noone, Litigation with the Federal Government (4th ed.) (American Law Institute, 2006), pp. 10-11.
  20. Former Assistant Attorneys General: Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice.
  21. Kevin Alonso & R. Bruce Anderson, "Civil Rights Legislation and Policy" in Postwar America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History (2006, ed. James Ciment), p .233.
  22. Organization, Mission and Functions Manual: Criminal Division, United States Department of Justice.
  23. 1 2 Arnold W. Reitze, Air Pollution Control Law: Compliance and Enforcement (Environmental Law Institute, 2001), p. 571.
  24. 1 2 Cornell W. Clayton, The Politics of Justice: The Attorney General and the Making of Legal Policy (M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1992), p. 34.
  25. National Security Cultures: Patterns of Global Governance (Routledge, 2010; eds. Emil J. Kirchner & James Sperling), p. 195.
  26. Nancy Staudt, The Judicial Power of the Purse: How Courts Fund National Defense in Times of Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 34.
  27. Civilian Agency Records: Department of Justice Records, National Archived and Records Administration.
  28. Larry K. Gaines & Victor E. Kappeler, Policing in America (8th ed. 2015), pp. 38–39.
  29. United States Marshals Service Then … and Now (Office of the Director, United States Marshals Service, U.S. Department of Justice, 1978).
  30. The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide (Oryz Press, 1999, ed. Athan G. Theoharis), p. 102.
  31. Mitchel P. Roth, Prisons and Prison Systems: A Global Encyclopedia (Greenwood, 2006), pp. 278–79.
  32. Dean J. Champion, Sentencing: A Reference Handbook (ABC-CLIO, Inc.: 2008), pp. 22–23.
  33. James O. Windell, Looking Back in Crime: What Happened on This Date in Criminal Justice History? (CRC Press, 2015), p. 91.
  34. 1 2 Transfer of ATF to U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
  35. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau, Federal Register.
  36. 1 2 Malykhina, Elena (April 25, 2014). "Justice Department Names New CIO". Government. InformationWeek.
  37. Dotgovwatch.com, October 18, 2007
  38. 2015 Department of Justice Budget Authority by Appropriation, United States Department of Justice, Accessed 2015-07-13
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