The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Division represents the United States, its departments and agencies, Members of Congress, Cabinet Officers, and other federal employees in any civil or criminal matter within its scope of responsibility. The Civil Division’s responsibilities include defending against challenges to federal programs; ensuring the Federal Government speaks with one voice in its view of the law; preserving the intent of Congress; advancing the credibility of the government before the courts; and protecting the public fisc (the U.S. Treasury).
Civil Division litigation falls generally into the following categories:
- Cases involving national policies or that otherwise implicate significant federal interests;
- Complex cases that are not readily handled by U.S. Attorney's Offices;
- Cases filed in national or foreign courts;
- Cases crossing multiple jurisdictions; and
- Immigration cases.
The Civil Division's legal practice includes both defensive and affirmative litigation. Each year, thousands of lawsuits against the government are filed as a result of its programs, policies, laws, and domestic and foreign operations, as well as law enforcement initiatives, military actions, and counterterrorism efforts.
In its affirmative litigation, the Division brings suits on behalf of the United States, primarily to recoup money lost through fraud, loan defaults, and the abuse of federal funds. Annually, hundreds of millions – and often billions – of dollars are returned to the Treasury, Medicare, and other programs as a result of the Civil Division’s litigation efforts.
The Civil Division administers three compensation programs, the first created by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, the second created by the 1990’s Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, and the third created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.
Civil Division attorneys play a significant leadership role within the DOJ and the Executive Branch as a whole. The Division consults with and advises other DOJ components, including U.S. Attorney's Offices and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and client agencies to ensure that the government’s litigation position is unified, consistent, and successful. Civil Division attorneys work closely with client agencies’ general counsels to head off potential litigation and to prevent unfavorable outcomes should cases proceed in court.