Discourse, Identity, and Social Change in the Marriage Equality Debates. By Karen Tracey. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Published date01 March 2018
Date01 March 2018
Criminal Defense in China was written as the leadership’s repres-
sion of activist lawyers started intensifying. In China’s tightening
political climate, the book itself is an act of solidarity, and the
authors plainly sympathize with the politically active lawyers they
profile. Still, real world events cast a shadow over the text, and the
political fears experienced by many criminal lawyers are unlikely to
disappear soon. Mounting a robust defense remains risky, as law-
yers can easily be charged with obstructing justice or tampering
with evidence. Signs that political liberalism is gaining strength are
also scarce. The most optimism Liu and Halliday can muster is to
say the future is uncertain. The last line of the book takes a long his-
torical view, casting the present as a moment when “forces for and
against political liberalism engage in epic struggles as the world
watches and waits” (182). Criminal Defense in China, then, is a snap-
shot of a profession in flux. It is a valuable portrait of criminal
defense lawyers’ beliefs and strategies, and vital reading for anyone
looking to understand the prospects for legal activism for China or
how the fight for political liberalism is unfolding worldwide.
Discourse, Identity, and Social Change in the Marriage Equality Debates.By
Karen Tracey. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Reviewed by Matthew Mitchell, School of Social and Political Sciences,
The University of Melbourne
The twenty-first century has been a time of exceptionally rapid
change in the social status of gays and lesbians in the United States.
This change has been contested and reflected in the legal field,
where within 12 years the law’s regard of same-sex relations has
shifted from criminalization to legalization. In Discourse, Identity, and
Social Change in the Marriage Equality Debates, Karen Tracey tracks
how this shift occurred in debates regarding same-sex marriage in
Supreme Court and legislative hearings between 2003 and 2013.
She delivers a thorough empirical account of how law was made
and interpreted through discursive processes, and how it was
through these processes that changing social values infiltrated law
and transformed it from the inside-out.
Tracey illustrates how law emerges through discursive struggle,
the parameters of which are both structured and shifting. At the
beginning of Parts One and Two, she describes how Supreme Court
278 Book Reviews

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