The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed to ensure that all Americans would be able to participate in the political process free from discrimination on the basis of race or color. In a series of decisions beginning with South Carolina v. Katzenbach, the federal courts upheld and implemented the rights established by the Act. Initially, courts were primarily called upon to dismantle discriminatory restrictions on voter registration and balloting procedures. Over time, the courts' efforts shifted to the elimination of gerrymandering schemes that "diluted" the political power of geographically concentrated minority communities. In 1982, amendments to the Voting Rights Act expanded the availability of relief under the Act by eliminating the requirement that plaintiffs alleging vote dilution demonstrate discriminatory intent. Today, the Voting Rights Act remains an important source of legal protection for minority voters who face barriers to political empowerment.

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