Constructing Countervailing Power: Law and Organizing in an Era of Political Inequality
91 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2021 Last revised: 24 Mar 2021
Columbia University - Law School
Harvard Law School
Date Written: February 5, 2021
This Article proposes an innovative approach to remedying the crisis of political inequality: using law to facilitate organizing by the poor and working class, not only as workers, but also as tenants, debtors, welfare beneficiaries, and others. The piece draws on the social-movements literature, and the successes and failures of labor law, to show how law can supplement the deficient regimes of campaign finance and lobbying reform and enable lower-income groups to build organizations capable of countervailing the political power of the wealthy. As such, the Article offers a new direction forward for the public-law literature on political power and political inequality. It also offers critical lessons for government officials, organizers, and advocates seeking to respond to the inequalities made painfully evident by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: labor law, inequality, social movements, democracy, politics, political economy, public law, organizing
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