At a moment when many are looking for new strategies to advance progressive political goals, The American Prospect and The Forge have published a roundtable-style discussion based on Kate Andrias’s and my article Constructing Countervailing Power: Law and Organizing in an Era of Political Inequality. In addition to Kate and me, the roundtable featured Steve Kest and Robert Kuttner. Here’s how The Prospect describes the piece:

How can organizations of poor and working people build countervailing power against large institutions? One strategy is to devise laws that create opportunities for organizing and political leverage to change the distribution of power and alter substantive outcomes. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 is one such law. The NLRA invited and defended union organizing. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 is another such law. It created an affirmative obligation on the part of banks to serve communities, which in turn provided an organizing target. What laws like these have in common is that they don’t attempt to shift power directly but facilitate organizing for countervailing power.

Law professors Benjamin Sachs of Harvard and Kate Andrias at Columbia saw in such laws a template with broader applications. Their recent article in The Yale Law Journal spelled out some principles and opportunities. We invited them to have a conversation with Steve Kest, who had extensive practical experience using such laws at ACORN; and Bob Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect, who in an earlier life wrote CRA. Bob moderated the discussion, which has been lightly edited for clarity.