That power can mean those with money and influence in high places who have access to those who formulate the laws and rules [governmental bodies] they see as being in their favor. Or, it can mean a group that does not necessarily have financial power, but power nonetheless in sufficient numbers to influence those who make laws and rules. This type of influence can be seen in lobby groups whose power may lie in their association with a powerful entity, or, the influence may lie with a group large enough to have a negative effect on, say, a politician’s reelection goals if the politician does not promote the law they see as beneficial to their cause. At times those in power seek to create laws and rules that benefit the less powerful, but the act of getting the law or rule passed is still a function of their power.
In general, laws are made to maintain order within the culture as perceived at times by special interests and at times by the wider group. Both can be discriminatory and/or can attempt to alleviate discrimination, depending upon the law, who it affects, and whether or not it singles out certain groups and inhibits or restricts their life and behavior. Unfortunately, “Racism, sexism, heterosexism and class privilege...[when it comes to law and rule making] create a system of advantage and disadvantage that enhances the life chances of some while limiting the life chances of others” (Rothenberg 117).
This system has been in place since the beginning and is typified by Thomas Jefferson’s advocacy of a white yeoman class of small farmers who, as property owners, had a vested interested in preserving law and a role in administering it at the expense of poor whites destined to remain the downtrodden labor force. (Rothenberg, from Buck, Contructing Race and Creating White Privilege 35)
Alarmingly not much has changed since that time. According to Pharr, the U.S. continues to promote a