In 2009, the RNC asked Judge Debevoise to vacate the decree, and it was his denial of that request that the appeals court affirmed, although the judge did modify the decree somewhat, including providing for its expiration as of December 1, 2017, unless the Democratic National Committee is able to prove the RNC has violated the decree.
The sanctions have their roots in the 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial campaign, during which the RNC was accused of using a variety of tactics to reduce the number of minority voters. Most notably, they enlisted the aid of off-duty police officers and sheriffs to intimidate voters in minority neighborhoods by standing at polling places wearing armbands that said “National Ballot Security Task Force.” Some of the officers were armed.
Rather than face a lawsuit or worse, the RNC agreed to comply with all state and federal laws protecting the right of qualified citizens to vote in all states.
Although the RNC now argues that changes in voter registration laws, political culture and early voting opportunities render the requirements an unnecessary infringement on its First Amendment rights, the appeals court found that suppression of minority voters is still an ongoing problem. The fact that the court has had to intervene against the RNC on three separate occasions–in 1987, 1990 and 2004–in response to similar voter suppression allegations against Republicans in Louisiana, North Carolina and Ohio, respectively, underscored the continuing need for the pre-clearance requirements.
etc., etc., etc.