The Civil Rights Division was established in the Department of Justice by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The Division enforces the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1968, as amended; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, as amended; the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988; Executive Order 12250 (inter alia, Title VI, Title IX and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended); and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
The Division also enforces the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act; the Police Misconduct Provision of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994; the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000; and Section 102 of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, as amended, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin and citizenship status as well as document abuse and retaliation.
In addition, the Division is charged with all departmental responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA assures equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations and services, transportation, and telecommunications.
The major functions of the Division are to:
- Investigate and, when warranted by the findings, initiate legal proceedings seeking injunctive and other relief in cases involving discrimination in the areas of education, credit, employment, housing, public accommodations and facilities, federally funded programs, voting, and the rights of prisoners, mentally and physically disabled persons, and senior citizens.
- Prosecute violations of criminal statutes that prohibit specified acts of interference with federally protected rights and activities, such as conspiracies to interfere with or deny a certain individual or group of individuals the exercise of these rights.
- Prosecute violations of anti-trafficking statutes, including the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, and play a strong role in identifying, protecting, and assisting victims of human trafficking.
- Rule on voting changes and recommend observer and examiner activities authorized by the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended
- Implement Executive Order 12250 by studying, reviewing and approving regulatory changes proposed by all federal executive branch agencies as they pertain to civil rights, including Titles VI and IX and Section 5 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended.
- Under the ADA, coordinate the technical assistance activities of other federal agencies and provide technical assistance to places of public accommodation and state and local governments.
- Serve as the principal advisor to the Attorney General on all matters pertaining to civil rights.
- Provide Department representation to, and maintain close liaison and cooperation with, officials and representatives of other divisions, federal agencies, state and municipal governments and private organizations on civil rights issues.