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About The Division

Congress created the Civil Rights Division in 1957 to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The Division enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, religion, familial status, military status and national origin.

Since its establishment, the Division has grown dramatically in both size and scope, and has played a role in many of the nation's pivotal civil rights battles. Division attorneys prosecuted the defendants accused of murdering three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964, and were involved in the investigations of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Medgar Evers. The Division enforces a wide array of laws that protect the civil rights of all individuals.

The Division continually strives to educate the public about its work. In response to feedback from the public and recommendations made by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), the Division is updating and redesigning its website. The redesigned website will better explain the Division's work and make it easier for the public to use. As part of this project, the Division updated this page to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the Division's work. If you have feedback about this page or other parts of the Division’s website, please share it with us at

The Creation and Role of the Civil Rights Division. The following documents provide some background information on the Division’s purpose, structure, and operations.... View More

Civil Rights Division Jurisdiction – What Are We Authorized to Do? The Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the Civil Rights Division has the authority to enforce all Federal civil rights statutes....View More

How is the Civil Rights Division Organized? The Division is led by the Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for Civil Rights. A principal deputy assistant attorney general and four deputy assistant attorneys general work with the AAG to supervise the Division’s criminal and civil enforcement work....View More

How Does the Division Find Out About Possible Civil Rights Violations? There are many ways that the Division learns about potential civil rights violations.  Each year, it receives thousands of letters, emails and phone calls from individuals, public officials and organizations about potential civil rights violations....View More

What Happens to Complaints When the Division Does Not Open an Investigation?
The Division sometimes receives complaints about issues that it cannot address. When that happens, the Division tries to direct the person who made the complaint to another part of the Department of Justice or a different federal agency that may be able to help...View More

How Does the Division Decide What Cases to Bring? Generally, section attorneys review incoming complaints and conduct research to identify potential civil investigations.  Based on that work, the attorney may recommend that the section chief authorize an investigation....View More

Does the Division Announce Cases and Resolutions? Yes.  The Division publicly announces newly filed cases and resolutions....View More

When Does the Division Announce Investigations? The Division often receives questions about why it announces some, but not all, investigations. In general, the Department of Justice does not publicly announce investigations or investigative findings. There are several reasons for this policy....View More

How Does the Division Work with United States Attorneys’ Offices, Other Federal Agencies and Outside Organizations or People. Working with other agencies, organizations and individuals has always been an important part of the Division’s work....View More 

News About the Civil Rights Division’s Cases and Activities

The Civil Rights Division’s Most Recent Reports and Guides

Interested in Other Division Documents, Reports and Policies? Many of these documents are available on the Civil Rights FOIA page.

Updated June 1, 2023