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United States Department of Justice

Dept. of Justice
Seal of the Department of Justice
Established: June 22, 1870
Activated: July 1, 1870
Attorney General: Alberto Gonzales
Deputy Atty. Gen.: James B. Comey
Budget: $23.4 billion (2004)
Employees: 112,557 (2004)

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. It is administered by the United States Attorney General, 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.

Eighty-one years after the establishment of the Office of the Attorney General, Congress reported a bill to establish a Department of Justice. Both the Senate and House passed the bill, and President Ulysses S. Grant signed it on June 22, 1870. Officially, the Department of Justice 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)".

Operating units

In March 2003, much of the Immigration and Naturalization Service was 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 jursidiction of the Department of Justice.

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