|Established:||June 22, 1870|
|Activated:||July 1, 1870|
|Attorney General:||Alberto Gonzales|
|Deputy Attorney General:||Paul McNulty|
|Budget:||$22.2 billion (2005)|
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is a Cabinet department in the United States government designed to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans (see). The DOJ is administered by the United States Attorney General (see ), one of the original members of the cabinet.
Initially the Attorney General was a one-person, part-time job, established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, but this grew with the bureaucracy. At one time the Attorney General gave legal advice to U.S. Congress as well as the President, but this had stopped by 1819 on account of the workload involved.
In 1867, the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, led by William Lawrence, conducted an inquiry into the creation of a "law department" headed by the Attorney General and composed of the various department solicitors and district attorneys. On February 19, 1868, Lawrence introduced a bill in Congress to create the Department of Justice. This first bill was unsuccessful, however, as Lawrence could not devote enough time to ensure its passage owing to his occupation with the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.
A second bill was introduced to Congress by Rhode Island Representative Thomas Jenckes on February 25, 1870, and both the Senate and House passed the bill. President Ulysses S. Grant then signed the bill into law on June 22, 1870. At last, eighty-one years after the establishment of the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice was established as it officially began operations on July 1, 1870.
The bill, called the "Act to Establish the Department of Justice", did little to change the Attorney General's responsibilities, and his salary and tenure remained the same. The law did create a new office, that of Solicitor General, to supervise and conduct government litigation in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Various efforts, none entirely successful, have been made to determine the meaning of the Latin motto appearing on the Department of Justice seal, Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur. 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 to the Department of Justice) "who prosecutes on behalf of justice (or the Lady 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.