Publication Date



Fordham Law Review


The federal government — in particular the Department of Justice — can be one of the most efficient and powerful vindicators of civil rights, while simultaneously one of the most effective advocates for imposing barriers to affirmative civil rights enforcement. At the same time that the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division (CRD) is entering federal court to vindicate important rights, attorneys in the Civil Division (either from Main Justice or in any number of U.S. Attorney’s offices) are appearing in court to prevent the same. No doubt a similar pattern can be observed in certain state governments that have active affirmative civil rights enforcement bodies while also maintaining well-resourced defensive litigation bureaus. This observation has important consequences, which I explore in this brief Article. Most critical for this paper, it has important ramifications for Executive Branch law enforcement priorities, access to justice concerns, and institutional design.



First Page



Fordham University School of Law


affirmative enforcement; civil rights; access to justice; professional responsibility; institutional design; Bivens


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Law


Colloquium: Access to Justice and the Legal Profession in an Era of Contracting Civil Liability



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