Department of Justice

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The Judiciary Act of 1789, ch. 20, sec. 35, 1 Stat. 73, 92-93 (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." 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 retained to work on cases.

In 1870, after the post-Civil War increase in the amount of litigation involving the United States necessitated the very expensive retention of a large number of private attorneys to handle the workload, a concerned Congress passed the Act to Establish the Department of Justice, ch. 150, 16 Stat. 162 (1870) 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 Department of Justice, pursuant to the 1870 Act, 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 Department control over federal law enforcement. To assist the Attorney General, the 1870 Act created the Office of the Solicitor General.

The 1870 Act is the foundation upon which the Department of Justice still rests. However, the structure of the Department of Justice has changed over the years, with the addition of the Deputy Attorneys General and the formation of the Divisions. Unchanged is the steadily increasing workload of the Department. It has become the world's largest law office and the central agency for enforcement of federal laws.


The Department of Justice is composed of the following agencies:

  • 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
  • Community Capacity Development Office (OJP) (includes Weed and Seed and American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk)
  • Community Oriented Policing Services - COPS
  • Community Relations Service
  • Criminal Division
  • Diversion Control Program (DEA)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration - DEA
  • Environment and Natural Resources Division
  • Executive Office for Immigration Review
  • Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys
  • Executive Office for U.S. Trustees
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation - FBI
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons - BOP
  • Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States
  • 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)
  • National Security Division - NSD
  • Office of the Associate Attorney General
  • Office of the Attorney General
  • Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
  • Office of the Chief Information Officer
  • 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 Intergovernmental and Public Liaison
  • Office of Justice Programs
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention - OJJDP (OJP)
  • Office of Legal Counsel
  • Office of Legal Policy
  • Office of Legislative Affairs
  • Office of the Pardon Attorney
  • Office of Professional Responsibility
  • Office of Public Affairs
  • Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking - SMART (OJP)
  • Office of Special Counsel
  • Office of the Solicitor General
  • Office of Tribal Justice
  • Office for Victims of Crime (OJP)
  • Office on Violence Against Women
  • Privacy and Civil Liberties Office
  • Professional Responsibility Advisory Office
  • Tax Division
  • U.S. Attorneys
  • U.S. Marshals Service
  • U.S. Parole Commission
  • U.S. Trustee Program


External links