U.S. Department of Justice

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The U.S. Department of Justice or DOJ is a cabinet department in the United States government. Its highest ranking official is the Attorney General, who is appointed by the president and must be confirmed by a majority of the U.S. Senate. This position is currently filled by Eric H. Holder, Jr., who was appointed by President Obama. Alberto Gonzales was the former Attorney General [1], who announced his resignation on August 27, 2007.


The Judiciary Act of 1789 created the Office of the Attorney General. Originally a one-person part-time position, the Attorney General was to be "learned in the law" with the duty "to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned, and to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President of the United States, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments, touching any matters that may concern their departments." Before long, the workload quickly became too much for one person, necessitating the hiring of several assistants for the Attorney General. With an increasing amount of work to be done, private attorneys were also retained to work on cases. [2]

In 1870, Congress passed the Act to Establish the Department of Justice (DOJ), setting it up as "an executive department of the government of the United States" with the Attorney General as its head. Officially coming into existence on July 1, 1870, the DOJ was to handle the legal business of the United States. The Act gave the Department control over all criminal prosecutions and civil suits in which the United States had an interest. In addition, the Act gave the Attorney General and the DOJ control over federal law enforcement. To assist the Attorney General, the 1870 Act created the Office of the Solicitor General, whose primary task would be (and remains) to conduct all litigation on behalf of the United States in the Supreme Court, and to supervise the handling of litigation in the federal appellate courts. [3] [4]

Over the years, the structure of the DOJ changed considerably. It continued to expand, and eventually became the world's largest law office and the central agency for the enforcement of all federal laws. [5]

Mission statement

The following is the operating mission statement of the DOJ:

To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. [6]

Department of Justice organizations

The following departments and organizations fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice: [7].

  • American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk (OJP)
  • Antitrust Division
  • Asset Forfeiture Program
  • Attorney General
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
  • Bureau of Justice Assistance (OJP)
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics (OJP)
  • Civil Division
  • Civil Rights Division (web)
  • Community Dispute Resolution (OJP)
  • Community Oriented Policing Services - COPS
  • Community Relations Service
  • Criminal Division
  • Diversion Control Program (DEA)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Environment and Natural Resources Division
  • Executive Office for Immigration Review
  • Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys
  • Executive Office for U.S. Trustees
  • Executive Office for Weed and Seed (OJP)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service: now part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • U.S. Customs Service and Border Patrol (CSBP)
  • Office of Immigration Statistics
  • INTERPOL -- U.S. National Central Bureau
  • Justice Management Division
  • National Criminal Justice Reference Service (OJP)
  • National Drug Intelligence Center
  • National Institute of Corrections (FBOP)
  • National Institute of Justice (OJP)
  • Office of the Associate Attorney General
  • Office of the Attorney General
  • Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
  • Office of the Deputy Attorney General
  • Office of Dispute Resolution
  • Office of the Federal Detention Trustee
  • Office of Information and Privacy
  • Office of the Inspector General
  • Office of Intelligence Policy and Review
  • Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison
  • Office of Justice Programs
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJP)
  • Office of Legal Counsel
  • Office of Legal Policy
  • Office of Legislative Affairs
  • Office of the Ombudsperson
  • Office of the Pardon Attorney
  • Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education (OJP)
  • Office of Professional Responsibility
  • Office of Public Affairs
  • Office of the Solicitor General
  • Office of Tribal Justice
  • Office for Victims of Crime (OJP)
  • Office on Violence Against Women (OJP)
  • Professional Responsibility Advisory Office
  • Tax Division
  • U.S. Attorneys
  • United States Marshals Service (U.S. Marshals Service (a.k.a. Federal Marshals Service))
  • U.S. Parole Commission
  • U.S. Trustee Program

Public Integrity Section

The Public Integrity Section of the DOJ oversees the federal effort to combat corruption through the prosecution of elected and appointed public officials at all levels of government. It has exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of criminal misconduct on the part of federal judges and also monitors the investigation and prosecution of election and conflict of interest crimes. Attorneys prosecute selected cases against federal, state, and local officials, and are available as a source of advice and expertise to other prosecutors and investigators. Since 1978, the Public Integrity Section has supervised the administration of the Independent Counsel provisions of the Ethics in Government Act. [8]

2006 activity

Appointment of section head to federal judgeship

On January 25, 2006, President Bush raised controversy when he nominated the head of the Public Integrity Section, Noel Hillman, to a federal judgeship in New Jersey. Hillman had been running the section’s investigation into the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff. Three weeks prior to his nomination, Abramoff announced his guilty plea and agreed to testify against others, including members of Congress and White House staff. Colleagues at the Justice Department said Hillman had been involved in the day-to-day management of the investigation since it first began in 2004. Democrats, among others, questioned the timing of the decision. [9] [10] Bush’s press secretary, Scott McClellan, assured reporters that the allegations were “nothing but pure politics,” noting that “The Justice Department is holding Mr. Abramoff to account, and the career Justice prosecutors are continuing to fully investigate the matter." [11]

2006 investigations of members of Congress

In 2006, the Department of Justice conducted numerous investigations into potential wrongdoing by members of Congress. The following members were probed by the DOJ:

For more details on each of these investigations, see the Congresspedia page on Members of Congress under investigation

Contact details

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Department of Justice Main Switchboard: 202-514-2000
Office of the Attorney General: 202-353-1555
Email: AskDOJ AT usdoj.gov

SourceWatch resources

External links