DRAWING LINES IN SHIFTING SANDS: THE DOJ, THE VRA, AND THE 2011 REDISTRICTING PROCESS
Those who criticize section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) on either constitutional or policy grounds emphasize several extraordinary features of the statute. Its selective application to certain parts of the country represents an exception to the general rule of nationwide application of provisions in the U.S. Code. The alteration of the federal-state relationship through the preclearance process is exceptional in the fact that state laws of a particular sort (that is, those relating to voting) can be held up by the federal government, either the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.). Finally, although other laws have sunset periods and have been reauthorized, the VRA has been reauthorized multiple times for different lengths of time, most recently in 2006 for another 25 years.