United States Department of Justice

United States Department of Justice
For the animal rights group, see Justice Department (animal rights).
Department of Justice
Department overview
Formed June 22, 1870 (1870-06-22) (141 years ago)
July 1, 1870 (1870-07-01) (141 years ago)
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C.

38°53′35.7″N 77°1′29.9″W / 38.89325°N 77.024972°W / 38.89325; -77.024972
Employees 111,993 (2010)
Annual budget $27.7 billion (2010)
Department executives Eric Holder, Attorney General
James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General

The United States Department of Justice (often referred to as the Justice Department or DOJ), is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.

The Department is led by the 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 Eric Holder.



The Attorney General was initially a one-person, part-time job, 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 had stopped by 1819 on account of the workload involved.[citation needed]

In 1867, 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 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] President Ulysses S. Grant then signed the bill into law on June 22, 1870. The Department of Justice officially began operations on July 1, 1870.[citation needed]

The "Act to Establish the Department of Justice" bill did little to change the Attorney General's responsibilities, and his salary and tenure remained the same.[1] 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.[citation needed]

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.[2]

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.[3]

By 2008 a small number of current and former assistant U.S. attorneys were alleged to have engaged in criminal conduct including sexual battery,[4] sexual abuse of children,[5] and failures to make mandatory conflict of interest disclosures.[6]

2010 Operation "Fast & Furious" came to light. This was a gun selling, gun trafficking (to Mexico and other countries)and drug trafficking (Mexico into the US with cocaine) operation run thru the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and overseen by the DOJ. A separate Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) within the DOJ is responsible for investigating attorney employees of the DOJ who have been accused of misconduct or criminal activity with respect to their professional functions as DOJ attorneys. Former U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft acknowledged challenges facing the Department of Justice:

In the real world of limited resources, we know that we can only detect, investigate and prosecute a small percentage of those officials who are corrupt.[7]

I remain convinced that there is no more important area in the fight against corruption than the challenge for us within the law enforcement and justice sectors to keep our own houses clean.[8]

In 2011, they made more than 110 arrests of the American Mafia. It is the biggest attack on the mafia ever.[citation needed]

On April 15, 2011, the Department of Justice shut down the three biggest on-line poker networks (Pokerstars, Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet) and froze billions of dollars of assets owned by the players on the sites without warning or options to cash-out.


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 to the Department of Justice) "who prosecutes on behalf of justice (or the Lady Justice)"

The building was renamed in honor of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in 2001. It is sometimes referred to as "Main Justice."[9]


Leadership offices


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 PATRIOT ACT. It was criticized by government watchdog groups.[10]

Finances and Budget

Recently, the department became embroiled in a scandal for spending $121,000,000 on extravagant conferences that included $16 muffins and $8 beverages. [11] The Justice Department was authorized a budget for Fiscal Year 2010 of $27.7 billion and was authorized 111,993 positions. The budget authorization is broken down as follows:[12]

Program Funding (in billions)
Administration $0.9
Law Enforcement $12.7
Litigation $3
Prisons $7.6
State and Local Assistance $3.6
Total $27.7

See also

US-GreatSeal-Obverse.svg Government of the United States portal


  1. ^ "Act to Establish the Department of Justice"
  2. ^ Langeluttig, Albert (1927). The Department of Justice of the United States. Johns Hopkins Press. pp. 9–14. 
  3. ^ Langeluttig, abby (1927). The Department of Justice of the United States. Johns Hopkins Press. pp. 14–15. 
  4. ^ "CNN finds a real expert on sex scandals: Kendall Coffey". http://miamiherald.typepad.com/changing_channels/2008/03/cnn-finds-a-rea.html. Retrieved April 18, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Federal Prosecutor Arrested In Child Sex Sting". http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/14132485/detail.html. Retrieved April 18, 2008. 
  6. ^ "DOJ efforts to cover up MNAT perjury and Fraud now receives national attention". http://laserhaas.wordpress.com/2008/03/05/doj-efforts-to-cover-up-mnat-perjury-and-fraud-now-receives-national-attention/. Retrieved April 18, 2008. 
  7. ^ "The Second Global Forum on Fighting Corruption – U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft remarks at the U.S. Department of State website". Archived from the original on April 10, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080410040628/http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/rm/may/3387.htm. Retrieved April 18, 2008. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft addressing The Hague". Archived from the original on April 10, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080410040628/http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/rm/may/3387.htm. Retrieved April 18, 2008. 
  9. ^ Malek, Alia (March 30, 2007). "Partisan Civil Rights: Bush's Long History of Politicizing Justice". Spiegel Online. http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,474911,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  10. ^ Dotgovwatch.wom, October 18, 2007
  11. ^ "US justice department paid $16 for muffins url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14997843". 
  12. ^ 2011 Department of Justice Budget Request, United States Department of Justice, Accessed 2011-02-05

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