Department of Justice Functions

Department of Justice Functions (DOJ) in the United States

Introduction to Department of Justice Functions

The functions of the department include providing means for the enforcement of federal laws and investigating violations thereof; supervising the federal penal institutions; furnishing legal counsel in cases involving the federal government and conducting all suits brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in which the federal government is concerned; interpreting laws relating to the activities of the other federal departments; and rendering legal advice, upon request, to the president and to Cabinet members.

The attorney general is assisted by the deputy attorney general and the associate attorney general. Another high-ranking official of the department is the solicitor general, who directs all U.S. government litigation in the Supreme Court and who is concerned generally with the conduct of the appellate litigation of the government. Assistant attorneys general head most of the divisions of the Justice Department. The functions of the department are carried out regionally by U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals; one of each is appointed to the 94 federal judicial districts by the president, with the consent of the Senate.” (1)

The mission of the U.S. Department of Justice is 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.

The Department of Justice is comprised of 40 component organizations, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Attorney General is the head of the Department of Justice and chief law enforcement officer of the federal government. The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters, advises the President and the heads of the executive departments of the government, and occasionally appears in person before the Supreme Court.

With a budget of approximately $25 billion, the U.S. Department of Justice is the world’s largest law office and the central agency for the enforcement of federal laws.

U.S. Department of Justice in the International Business Landscape

Definition of U.S. Department of Justice in the context of U.S. international business and public trade policy: Cabinet level department of the U.S. federal government that represents the citizens of the United States in enforcing the law in the public interest.


Federal programs, including constitutional challenges to statutes,
suits to overturn Government policies and programs, challenges to the legality
of Government decisions, allegations that the President has violated the
Constitution or Federal law, suits to enforce regulatory statutes and to
remedy or prevent statutory or regulatory violations.

The areas of litigation include:

  • Suits against the heads of Federal departments and agencies and other Government of?cials to enjoin of?cial actions, as well as suits for judicial review of administrative decisions, orders, and regulations;
  • suits involving national security, including suits to protect sensitive intelligence sources and materials;
  • suits to prevent interference with Government operations;
  • litigation concerning the constitutionality of Federal laws; and
  • suits raising employment discrimination claims and Government personnel issues.

There are also Appellate litigation launched by the DoJ, having primary responsibility for the litigation of Civil Division cases in the courts of appeal, and on occasion, State appeal courts.

Commercial litigation

Litigation associated with the Government’s diverse financial involvements includes:

  • all monetary suits involving contracts, express or implied;
  • actions to foreclose on Government mortgages and liens;
  • bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings; suits against guarantors and sureties;
  • actions involving fraud against the Government, including false or fraudulent claims for Federal insurance, loans, subsidies, and other bene?ts such as Medicare, false or fraudulent claims for payment under Federal contracts, whistleblower suits, and Government corruption;
  • patent, copyright, and trademark cases and suits arising out of construction, procurement,
    service contracts, and claims associated with contract terminations;
  • claims for just compensation under the Fifth Amendment;
  • claims for salary or retirement by civilian and military personnel;
  • cases assigned by congressional reference or special legislation; and
  • litigation involving interests of the United States in any foreign court, whether civil or criminal in nature.

Consumer litigation

Consumer litigation by the DoJ includes civil and criminal litigation and related
matters arising under various consumer protection and public health statutes.

Immigration litigation

Immigration litigation by the DoJ involves civil litigation under the Immigration and
Nationality Act and related laws; district court litigation, habeas corpus review
and general advice; petitions for removal order review and immigration-related
appellate matters; cases pertaining to the issuance of visas and passports; and
litigation arising under the legalization and employer sanction provisions of the
immigration laws.

Tort Litigation

Torts, including the broad range of tort litigation arising from the operation of
the Federal Government, constitutional tort claims against Federal Government
of?cials throughout the Government, aviation disasters, environmental and
occupational disease, and radiation and toxic substance exposure. It defends
petitions ?led pursuant to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and
is responsible for administering the Radiation Exposure Compensation
Program. It also handles maritime litigation and suits that seek personal monetary judgments against individual of?cers or employees.


Notes and References

Guide to Department of Justice Functions

In this Section

Federal Departments, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense (including Department of Defense Purpose, Department of Defense Organization, Department of Defense Liaison of Command and Department of Defense Supporting Agencies), Department of Education, Department of Energy (including Department of Energy Purpose, Department of Energy Organization and Department of Energy Research and Development), Department of Health and Human Services (including Department of Health and Human Services History and Department of Health and Human Services Agencies and Services), Department of Homeland Security (including Department of Homeland Security Organization and Functions, Department of Homeland Security Origins and Department of Homeland Security Supporting Agencies), Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice (including Department of Justice Functions, Department of Justice Structure and Department of Justice Associated Agencies), Department of Labor, Department of National Defence, Department of State (including Department of State Administration and Department of State Bureaus), Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, Department of the Interior (including Department of the Interior Functions and Department of the Interior Principal Agencies), Department of the Navy, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs (including the Department of Veterans Affairs Service Categories, Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Available and GI Bill of Rights) and Department of War.

Department of Justice Functions: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Department of Justice Functions. This part provides references, in relation to Department of Justice Functions, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Department of Justice Functions by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Department of Justice Functions and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Department of Justice Functions or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Department of Justice Functions and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Department of Justice Functions. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Department of Justice Functions should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Department of Justice Functions when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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