A Tribute to Harry D. Krause: International Scholar
Dieter Giesen | 1997 U. Ill. L. Rev.
If Professor Harry D. Krause and I had not met each other in Birmingham, England, for the first time, our first encounter might well have been in Germany. Professor Krause's visits there are frequent, and his relations to the country in which he was born in 1932 are close, a fact easily attainable from a number of publications and lectures in German as well as from various visiting fellowships, e.g., as a Fulbright Senior Research Professor in Bonn (1976-1977) or as a Fellow for the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) in 1985. In 1992 he became Alexander von Humboldt Prize Winner and, as such, a member of one of his native country's most distinguished worlds of learning and scholarship in quest of excellence in his fields of expertise.
Our meeting in Birmingham in 1973 resulted from one of our mutual interests in the wide field of law studies: the family law. Harry Krause--who is to be numbered among the most highly regarded and influential family law experts in the U.S.A.--ardently supported the project to found the International Society on Family Law, the function of which he himself so aptly described as going "on to build bridges between continents."1 He served as the Society's Vice President from 1973 to 1977; since then he has acted as a Member of the Executive Council.
His dedication to "building bridges" constitutes one of the main columns on which the body of Harry Krause's academic work rests (a second one being family law), and he continues to build bridges for scholars all over the world by way of comparative law. The great legal scholar Max Rheinstein, who had fled to the United States from a Germany in the grip of Nazi rule, entrusted the young Harry Krause, still in the early stages of his university career at the University of Illinois, with the task of delivering a book-length chapter on "Kinship Relations" for the International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law.
Harry Krause adheres to the conviction that the knowledge of the ways foreign law systems handle the problems common to any civilized society sharpens the scholar's eye for defects and shortcomings of home-grown solutions. In promotion of this, he freely shares his insights and abundant experience on family matters with anyone seeking his advice--and many do. I will return to this point. Harry Krause adds to his common-law education a civil-law approach that makes his work in comparative law all the richer. The civil-law background may also have influenced his tendency to family law, because in civil-law systems family law has always ranked as an important feature linking law with society, whereas the common-law countries only more recently have abandoned their traditional reluctance to regulate the field of family relations.
This special background combined with his personal closeness to Germany serves to explain the rather uncommon event of an U.S.-American professor being invited as an "expert" by the Parliamentary Enquiry Commission "Frau und Gesellschaft" (Woman and Society) of the Federal Republic of Germany, as happened to Harry Krause in 1979. Harry Krause most willingly dedicated his time to enlighten the Commission on the American law and social progress toward equality for women.
Besides his work in comparative law, the study and enhancement of America's family law is the field Harry Krause pursues with never-ending zest and enthusiasm. His earlier writings comprise the issues of business and torts law; welfare law and medical law also have been in the focus of his attention. Once he presented me, aware of my deep involvement in medical law, with a gracious gift of all U.S.-American medical law handbooks. This has been of particular help to my own research in this field. Still, family law is the topic where Harry Krause's heart and mind feel most at home. His particular interest lies with the protection of the weakest players in the court of law: the children. He started early to champion those children who were labeled with the stigmatizing tag of illegitimacy. As early as 1966, in a time when family law in the U.S. legal community was still thought to be quintessentially private and hardly worth scholarly discussion, he stepped out into the open with a proposal for a "Uniform Act on Legitimacy" and invoked the U.S. Constitution Equal Protection Clause on behalf of nonmarital children. By doing so he indicated which way he thought--and thinks up to now--family law should develop: away from something private and local to a matter of public concern, wide parts of which are to be governed by federal regulations. His first academic appearance in this area seems to breathe a prophetic life: it describes well in advance how, in the years to come, family law in the United States would change its course to become one of the most highly debated matters, in fact, "a major battleground in contemporary culture struggles."2
Harry Krause did his best to influence the development of family law. Not only is his list of publications rich with articles and books dealing brilliantly and highly originally with (among others) questions of child welfare and support, he also supplied amicus curiae briefs to important cases, such as Levy v. Louisiana,3 the first court decision on equal protection and illegitimacy. When that Court finally decided to apply the equal protection concept to the situation of children born out of wedlock, Harry Krause had achieved one first major victory. For him it was a victory of "rationality." As he still says, "fortunately--and not accidentally--the equal protection test is 'rationality.'"4 But it would not have been like him to pause and rest, now that an important issue was settled. With studies in Scandinavia and Germany, he enriched the discussion in the United States of blood testing as a means to establish paternity. Keeping in pace with family law development, Harry Krause entered the national debate on evasion of child support, a topic that still receives his attention today.
All the while taking a firm stand and expressing a well-founded personal view in his writings, Harry Krause nevertheless is meticulously fair and nuanced in whatever he produces. As Mary Ann Glendon put it recently, his aim is to gain "knowledge rather than popularity."5 It is not above him to point out potential misuse of the rights he promulgates; his essays give a balanced survey on whatever topic is treated. This fairness may explain why I found his name on the Internet, on a news page from an organization called Friends of Choice for Men,6 the aims of which could not be in steeper contradiction to Harry Krause, a stout defender of the duty of any father to support his child. Yet, even this rather dubious organization refers its members to Krause's book Family Law7 for all questions of paternity, rightly calling it an excellent guide on what the law is.
It would mean doing Harry Krause a great wrong to title him a colorless academic--moreover it would be a lie. Prominent among his work is his commitment to public service. Besides influencing the major debates in family law by scholarly activity and amicus briefs, Harry Krause has devoted uncountable hours of work to participation in law reform projects. He acted as a reporter and draftsman for the Uniform Parentage Act (1969-73) as well as a reporter for the Study Committee to Revise the Uniform Adoption Act (1975-85) and for the Committee to Draft the Uniform Putative Fathers Act in 1985, even before he became a Commissioner on Uniform Laws and a Member of the Council, Section on Family Law. Regarding this immense investment of time, it is a sign of Harry Krause's unrelenting energy that he also took part in diverse committees of the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, and a number of other regional and national conventions, all covering topics of special interest for him, such as determination of paternity, child support, and family dissolution.
Probably as a result of his comparative law studies, his involvement in those matters did not stop at the national border. As I mentioned above, he actively supports the International Society on Family Law; moreover, he reported on diverse occasions on various American law topics for the International Academy of Comparative Law (of which he is a member), and he represented the U.S. Department of State during the Hague Conference on Private International Law, when a multilateral treaty to govern international adoption was negotiated. Not to forget are the visits he paid to Oxford University, England, or the stay as Hewlett Fellow in Australia. To give a full and detailed account of his international activities would lead to a mind-numbing list. Bearing in mind the little section I have presented here, it should not have come as a surprise to me when I ran into him in Sydney, Australia, completely unaware of his being in town or on that continent. To use a phrase coined for the former German foreign secretary, Mr. Hans Dietrich Genscher, it would not have come as a surprise if he had run into himself!
This is not to say that he took his university duties lightly. His teaching subjects mirror his main interests: family law and comparison of law. Especially his lectures on comparative law, embedded quite often in family cases, must be an intellectual experience for students. It is here that Harry Krause's foremost qualities, an inquiring, razor-sharp mind combined with his winning personality, surface most clearly and are likely to win more and more believers to what might be called the High Altar of comparative law. And when I recall him telling the story of how one of his students, after a visiting lecture of mine at Illinois, proposed to keep me and send Harry Krause back to Germany, this may well have been a try to reward the German students with a glimpse at one of the sharpest minds in comparative family law.
His inclination to teaching shines through in some of his main books on family law. Family Law: Cases, Comments, and Questions, now in its third edition, is a magnificent opus directed at the student learner as well as the teacher. Harry Krause provides the reader with a splendid and up-to-date handbook on family law, an achievement so much more laudable because the rapid development of the subject forces the author to exchange considerable parts (up to seventy percent of the contents!) for each new edition. Besides the work of selecting and editing from the amorphous mass of literature and cases exactly the material necessary to enlighten the relevant parts of the law, Harry Krause's own additions make this book such a treasure. His stimulating critical questions and notes probe deeply into the fascinating layers of family law in an inspiring and uplifting way. They give evidence of an analytic and didactic approach that has yet to find its equal in the field of family law. The reader follows them in awe and is always anxious to get to know the author's answers to the questions he put up beforehand.
Harry Krause's Family Law in the Black Letter Series, available now in a second edition, is again a book concentrated on providing the student with the necessary knowledge of what is in his own words "the most exciting course in the curriculum, with the broadest social relevance."8 And this is from someone who is sure to know, and who takes interest in his students: the preface to the second edition offers some short but encouraging advice on how to handle exams--"'law' should be perceived by you as fun, and examinations as competitive games."9
But it is Harry Krause's Family Law in a Nutshell that seems to be the closest to the author's heart. This book addresses itself not only to the legally educated, but strives to provide "any intelligent reader" with "an understandable and accurate description of law."10 A devoted family man himself (the third edition is dedicated to his four sweet grandchildren), Harry Krause wants to open the "closed book" of family law to all parties concerned--a self-imposed exercise that is once again solved brilliantly.
I will abstain from probing any deeper into the writings of Harry D. Krause. His scholarly output is way above what could be expected even from a gifted scholar. The range of subjects covered by him is exceptional: Harry D. Krause never contented himself with one subject. The reader is referred to his impressive bibliography.11
How Harry Krause manages besides all these time-consuming tasks to fulfill the office of editor for several journals, not the least of which are the Family Law Quarterly, the American Journal of Comparative Law, and the Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, will stay his secret. In addition to this, he undertook the enormous task to edit three volumes of the International Library of Essays in Law and Legal Theory on family law in the common-law world. Here he proved once again his comprehensive knowledge of the new trends in family law and literature; his delicate selection of essays out of the limitless mass of contributions to this topic deserves special mention. I strongly suspect Harry Krause to have a secret and unseen power supply somewhere under his house's roof or basement--or perhaps it is his ability to relax when with friends and family, at Berlin, Champaign, or Oxford, and a few other select places where good fortune caused us to meet in years of happy memories. I recall many evenings shared with a good drink (mostly delicate German White or French Claret12), excellent food, and splendid conversation. It is an honor and a pleasure to be able to count Harry Krause among my friends. I greatly appreciate the possibility given by this essay to mirror some of the affection and admiration I hold for this eminent scholar: long may he live, ad multos felices annos.
* Dr.iur. (Bonn), M.A. status (Oxon.); Professor of Private and Comparative Law, Director, Institute of Private and Comparative Law, Head, Working Centre for Studies in German & International Medical Malpractice Law, The Free University of Berlin, Germany.