United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice, also known as the Justice Department, is a federal executive department of the United States government responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice in the United States, and is equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries. The department was formed in 1870 during the Ulysses S. Grant administration, and administers several federal law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The department is responsible for investigating instances of financial fraud, representing the United States government in legal matters, 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. As of February 2019, the Attorney General is William Barr.
HistoryThe 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; however, 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 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 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.
With the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887, the federal government took on some law enforcement responsibilities, and the Department of Justice tasked with performing these.
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 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..."
HeadquartersThe 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 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. 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 "who prosecutes on behalf of justice ".
The motto's conception of the prosecutor as being the servant of justice itself finds concrete expression in a similarly-ordered English-language inscription 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".
- Office of the Attorney General
- Office of the Deputy Attorney General
- Office of the Associate Attorney General
- *Office of the United States Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General
- Office of the Solicitor General of the United States
Law enforcement agenciesSeveral federal law enforcement agencies are administered by the Department of Justice:
- United States Marshals Service – The office of U.S. Marshal was established by the Judiciary Act of 1789. The U.S. Marshals Service was established as an agency in 1969, and it was elevated to full bureau status under the Justice Department in 1974.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation – On July 26, 1908, a small investigative force was created within the Justice Department under Attorney General Charles Bonaparte. The following year, this force was officially named the Bureau of Investigation by Attorney General George W. Wickersham. In 1935, the bureau adopted its current name.
- Federal Bureau of Prisons – the Three Prisons Act of 1891 created the federal prison system. Congress created the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 1930 by Pub. L. No. 71–218, 46 Stat. 325, signed into law by President Hoover on May 14, 1930.
- National Institute of Corrections
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Except for a brief period during Prohibition, ATF's predecessor bureaus were part of the Department of the Treasury for more than two hundred years. ATF was first established by Department of Treasury Order No. 221, effective July 1, 1972; this order "transferred the functions, powers, and duties arising under laws relating to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives from the Internal Revenue Service to ATF. In 2003, under the terms of the Homeland Security Act, ATF was split into two agencies – the new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was transferred to the Department of Justice, while the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau was retained by the Department of the Treasury.
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Office of the Inspector General
- Executive Office for Immigration Review
- Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys
- Executive Office of the United States Trustee
- Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
- Office of the chief information officer
- :In May 2014, the Department appointed Joseph Klimavicz as CIO. Klimavicz succeeds Kevin Deeley, who served as acting CIO since November 2013 when the previous office holder, Luke McCormack, left to take the CIO post at the Department of Homeland Security.
- Office of Dispute Resolution
- Office of the Federal Detention Trustee
- Office of Immigration Litigation
- Office of Information Policy
- Office of Intelligence Policy and Review
- Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison
- Office of Justice Programs
- *Bureau of Justice Assistance
- *Bureau of Justice Statistics
- *National Institute of Justice
- *Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
- *Office for Victims of Crime
- *Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking Office
- Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education
- Office of Legal Counsel
- Office of Legal Policy
- Office of Legislative Affairs
- Office of the Pardon Attorney
- Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties
- Office of Professional Responsibility
- Office of Public Affairs
- Office on Sexual Violence and Crimes against Children
- Office of Tribal Justice
- Office on Violence Against Women
- Professional Responsibility Advisory Office
- United States Attorneys Offices
- United States Trustees Offices
- Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
- Community Relations Service
Other offices and programs
- Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States
- INTERPOL, U.S. National Central Bureau
- National Drug Intelligence Center
- Obscenity Prosecution Task Force
- United States Parole Commission
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.