The Robert F. Kennedy Building is the headquarters of the U.S. 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||$37.7 billion (FY 2023)|
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a federal executive department of the United States government tasked with the enforcement of federal law and administration of justice in the United States. It is equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries. The department is headed by the U.S. attorney general, who reports directly to the president of the United States and is a member of the president's Cabinet. The current attorney general is Merrick Garland, who has served since March 2021.
The Justice Department contains most of the U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It also has eight divisions of lawyers who represent the U.S. federal government in litigation: the Criminal, Civil, Antitrust, Tax, Civil Rights, Environment and Natural Resources, National Security, and Justice Management Divisions. The department also includes the U.S. Attorneys' Offices for each of the 94 U.S. federal judicial districts.
The U.S. Congress created the Justice Department in 1870 during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. The Justice Department's functions ultimately date to 1789, when Congress created the office of the Attorney General.
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; however, in 1819, the attorney general began advising Congress alone to ensure a manageable workload.Until 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. The lightness of the office is exemplified by Edward Bates (1793–1869), Attorney General under Abraham Lincoln (1861 to 1864). Bates had only a small operation, with a staff of six. The main function was to generate legal opinions at the request of Lincoln and cabinet members, and handle occasional cases before the Supreme Court. Lincoln's cabinet was full of experienced lawyers who seldom felt the need to ask for his opinions. Bates had no authority over the US Attorneys around the country. The federal court system was handled by the Interior Department; the Treasury handled claims. Most of the opinions turned out by Bates's office were of minor importance. Lincoln gave him no special assignments and did not seek his advice on Supreme Court appointments. Bates did have an opportunity to comment on general policy as a cabinet member with a strong political base, but he seldom spoke up.
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 was tasked with performing these.
In 1884, control of federal prisons was transferred to the new department, from the Department of the 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.
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)
|Civil Rights Division||1957|
|Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD)||1909|
|Justice Management Division (JMD)||1945|
|National Security Division (NSD)||2006|
The Justice Department also had a War Division during World War II. It was created in 1942 and disestablished in 1945.
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.
On October 5, 2021, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco has announced the formation of a "Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team" during the Aspen Cyber Summit.
In 2015, the Justice Department's budget was as follows:
|Program||Funding (in millions)|
|Management and Finance|
|Justice Information Sharing Technology||$26|
|Administrative Reviews and Appeals ||$351 |
|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 Department of the Treasury (USDT) is the national treasury and finance department of the federal government of the United States, where it serves as an executive department. The department oversees the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint. These two agencies are responsible for printing all paper currency and minting coins, while the treasury executes currency circulation in the domestic fiscal system. The USDT collects all federal taxes through the Internal Revenue Service; manages U.S. government debt instruments; licenses and supervises banks and thrift institutions; and advises the legislative and executive branches on matters of fiscal policy. The department is administered by the secretary of the treasury, who is a member of the Cabinet. The treasurer of the United States has limited statutory duties, but advises the Secretary on various matters such as coinage and currency production. Signatures of both officials appear on all Federal Reserve notes.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), commonly referred to as the ATF, is a domestic law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice. Its responsibilities include the investigation and prevention of federal offenses involving the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms and explosives; acts of arson and bombings; and illegal trafficking and tax evasion of alcohol and tobacco products. The ATF also regulates via licensing the sale, possession, and transportation of firearms, ammunition, and explosives in interstate commerce. Many of the ATF's activities are carried out in conjunction with task forces made up of state and local law enforcement officers, such as Project Safe Neighborhoods. The ATF operates a unique fire research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, where full-scale mock-ups of criminal arson can be reconstructed. The ATF had 5,285 employees and an annual budget of almost $1.5 billion in 2021. The ATF has received criticism over its handling of the Ruby Ridge siege, the Waco siege and other incidents.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, statutorily named the Tax and Trade Bureau and frequently shortened to TTB, is a bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury, which regulates and collects taxes on trade and imports of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms within the United States.
In the United States, a special agent is an official term used to refer to an investigator or detective for a federal or state government or independent agency, who primarily serves in criminal investigatory positions. Additionally, many federal and state special agents operate in "criminal intelligence" based roles as well. Within the U.S. federal law enforcement system, dozens of federal agencies employ federal law enforcement officers, each with different criteria pertaining to the use of the titles Special Agent and Agent. These titles are also used by many state level agencies to refer to their personnel.
In the United States, a gun show is an event where promoters generally rent large public venues and then rent tables for display areas for dealers of guns and related items, and charge admission for buyers. The majority of guns for sale at gun shows are modern sporting firearms. Approximately 5,000 gun shows occur annually in the United States.
The Bureau of Prohibition was the United States federal law enforcement agency formed to enforce the National Prohibition Act of 1919, commonly known as the Volstead Act, which enforced the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding the prohibition of the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. When it was first established in 1920, it was a unit of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. On April 1, 1927, it became an independent entity within the Department of the Treasury, changing its name from the Prohibition Unit to the Bureau of Prohibition. In 1930, it became part of the Department of Justice. By 1933, with the repeal of Prohibition imminent, it was briefly absorbed into the FBI, or "Bureau of Investigation" as it was then called, and became the Bureau's "Alcohol Beverage Unit," though, for practical purposes it continued to operate as a separate agency. Very shortly after that, once repeal became a reality, and the only federal laws regarding alcoholic beverages being their taxation, it was switched back to Treasury, where it was renamed the Alcohol Tax Unit.
A Federal Firearms License (FFL) is a license in the United States that enables an individual or a company to engage in a business pertaining to the manufacture or importation of firearms and ammunition, or the interstate and intrastate sale of firearms. Holding an FFL to engage in certain such activities has been a legal requirement within the United States since the enactment of the Gun Control Act of 1968. The FFL is issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Carl Joseph Truscott is a security expert and was the sixth Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the United States Department of Justice under George W. Bush, a position he held from 2004 to 2006.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) is a federal drug enforcement program in the United States, overseen by the Attorney General and the Department of Justice. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the major drug trafficking operations and tackle related crimes, such as money laundering, tax and weapon violations, and violent crime, and prosecute those primarily responsible for the nation's drug supply.
Anne Melissa Milgram is an American attorney and academic who currently serves as Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) since 2021. She previously served as the 57th Attorney General of New Jersey from 2007 to 2010.
The federal government of the United States empowers a wide range of federal law enforcement agencies to maintain law and public order related to matters affecting the country as a whole.
The California Department of Justice is a statewide investigative law enforcement agency and legal department of the California executive branch under the elected leadership of the California Attorney General (AG) which carries out complex criminal and civil investigations, prosecutions, and other legal services throughout the US state of California. The department is equivalent to the State Bureau of Investigation in other states.
Violent Crime Impact Teams (VCIT) in the United States work proactively to identify, disrupt, arrest and prosecute the most violent criminals through innovative technology, analytical investigative resources and an integrated federal, state and local law enforcement strategy along with the leading federal law enforcement agency for the VCIT, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Project Gunrunner is a project of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) intended to stem the flow of firearms into Mexico, in an attempt to deprive the Mexican drug cartels of weapons.
Bradley A. Buckles was sworn in as the fifth Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) on December 20, 1999, by Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers. He previously served as deputy director under ATF Director John Magaw from 1996 to 1999. He began his service with ATF in 1974 when he joined the ATF Office of Chief Counsel. He was named Chief Counsel of ATF in 1995.
eTrace is an Internet-based firearm trace request submission system, developed by the United States' federal government, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, that provides for the electronic exchange of traced firearm data in a secure internet-based environment. Participating law enforcement agencies with access to the internet can acquire 24/7 real-time capabilities to electronically submit firearm trace requests, monitor the progress of traces, retrieve completed trace results, and to query firearm trace related data in Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) firearms registration database at the National Tracing Center. Firearms tracing is the systematic tracking of the movement of a firearm from its creation by the manufacturer or its introduction into U.S. commerce by the importer, through the distribution chain to the first retail purchase. Release 4.0, a bilingual version of eTrace was deployed in December, 2009 for the benefit of Spanish-speaking countries.
The U.S. Bomb Data Center serves as a nationwide collection center for information regarding arson and explosives related events throughout the United States. The Center was established in 1996 as a result of a congressional mandate and utilizes information from various government organizations such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the United States Fire Administration.
Gunwalking, or "letting guns walk", was a tactic used by the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office and the Arizona Field Office of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which ran a series of sting operations between 2006 and 2011 in the Tucson and Phoenix area where the ATF "purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders and arrest them" - however as of October 2011, none of the targeted high-level cartel figures had been arrested. These operations were done under the umbrella of Project Gunrunner, a project intended to stem the flow of firearms into Mexico by interdicting straw purchasers and gun traffickers within the United States. The Jacob Chambers Case began in October 2009 and eventually became known in February 2010 as Operation Fast and Furious after agents discovered Chambers and the other suspects under investigation belonged to a car club.
Kenneth E. Melson is the former acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in the United States. He was appointed to this post by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2009. He resigned as head of the ATF in the aftermath of the ATF gunwalking scandal and was replaced by B. Todd Jones, a former Marine who has twice served as the U.S. attorney in Minnesota.
Steven Michael Dettelbach is an American lawyer from Cleveland, Ohio, and is the current director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He was the United States attorney for the Northern District of Ohio for over six years during the presidency of Barack Obama, resigning in 2016. From 2016 to 2022, he was a partner at BakerHostetler, serving as co-leader of the firm's national White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations team. In July 2022, he was appointed by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the Senate as the director of the ATF.