What does the United States Department of Justice do?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2018
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The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is primarily concerned with integrating the powers and authorities of the executive branch of the United States federal government into those of the judicial branch of the government. In general, the department acts to ensure that laws passed by the legislative branch are properly upheld, while also considering the judicial reviews of the Supreme Court and other aspects of federal law. It works to deal with crimes at a federal level of government, often dealing with those involving multiple states or acts of violence against the nation as a whole.

As dictated by the official mission statement of the United States Department of Justice, the DOJ exists to “enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law.” It also strives to “ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic” and to “ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.” Though the specific efforts to uphold these precepts may vary between one administration and another, the general goal is to ensure that the laws of the United States are properly upheld and administered equally to all US citizens.


The department is headed by the US attorney general, who is the chief law enforcement officer of the US and is appointed by the president as part of his or her Cabinet. Through its various agencies, the DOJ works to provide basic legal support to the president and the federal government. There are numerous offices and groups within the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons, the US Federal Marshals, and the US Parole Commission. These various groups work to ensure that laws are upheld and oversee aspects of the legal system outside of the offices of the courts.

This work often includes establishing prisons throughout the nation and setting requirements and policies used for parole in federal cases. There are also groups and committees within the United States Department of Justice devoted to dealing with specific areas of legal justice. These groups include the Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates issues of misconduct by legal professionals; the Antitrust Division, which works to ensure fair trade among companies in the US; and the Office of the Solicitor General, which represents the United States in legal cases before the Supreme Court.


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Post 3

I just wanted to add that the United States Department of Justice has another very important function. The USDOJ protects the civil liberties of every American, especially those who do not have the means to protect or represent themselves. This is accomplished through the Civil Rights Division, which was created as a branch of the USDOJ in 1957.

The division was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1957 in response to the turmoil in the nation over obtaining civil rights. The division upholds and enforces federal laws concerning discrimination against a person or group based on their religion, race, color, sex, familial status, disability, and national origin (I think that is all of them).

Post 2

@Babalaas- The United States Attorney General is in Charge of the Department of Justice, which is also responsible for representing the federal government in federal court cases. Within the department of justice is the United States Attorney's Office, which is comprised of 94 United States Attorneys and a number of deputy attorneys underneath them. Each of the U.S. Attorney’s controls a district and handles cases within their district.

A deputy attorney will try smaller cases that are handled in federal district courts. Larger cases will be tried by the US District attorney him or herself.

If a case is important enough to warrant a review by the Supreme Court, the Solicitor General's office will defend the federal government’s position. The solicitor general is appointed by the president, and is essentially the deputy to the Attorney General.

Post 1

What a great article. I never really knew what the role of the Department of Justice was until I read this article.

Is the department of justice responsible for solving problems between states and branches of the federal government? I ask because I always hear about disputes between the federal government and states over things like pollution, immigration, and election issues. When these issues go before the state, does justice department represent the interests of the federal government?

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