A Tribute to Harry D. Krause: Scholar for all Seasons
Mary Ann Glendon | 1997 U. Ill. L. Rev.
When work began on the International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law in the 1960s, the organizers of that ambitious project scoured the world to find just the right author for each chapter. The standards set by the general editors at Hamburg's Max-Planck-Institute were exacting: every contributor had not only to be eminent in his field, but capable of presenting the major approaches taken by the world's legal systems for each assigned topic. Most of the writers selected were already at the summit of their academic careers. For the book-length chapter on "Kinship Relations" in the Family Law Volume, however, the editors turned to a young American named Harry Krause. The work of the University of Illinois assistant professor had already attracted the attention of the editor-in-chief of the Family Law Volume, Max Rheinstein, one of the great legal scholars who fled to the United States from Germany in the 1930s.
It was from Max Rheinstein, with whom I was working in the late 1960s, that I first heard of Harry. Today, nearly three decades later, I count Harry as a kind of kinsman--related to me and many others in an extended family founded by Rheinstein, the teacher who encouraged and inspired so many of us to follow him into comparative legal scholarship. So if this dedicatory essay sounds as though it were written by an admiring cousin, that is because I have followed Harry's career with "familial" as well as collegial interest. And what a career it has been!
When Harry began working in family law, the field was, as he has written, "near the bottom of the curricular totem pole," often just "a subsidiary course in conflicts and jurisdiction."1 Over a turbulent thirty years during which American family behavior underwent dramatic changes, family law has probably been altered more than any other area of the law school curriculum. Once regarded by lawyers as quintessentially private and local, the field has seen some of its territory merge with public law, and other parts come under federal regulation. Once characterized by relatively stable norms, it has become a major battleground in contemporary culture struggles. At the same time, family law has been invigorated by a remarkable flowering of scholarship to which Harry has been a prolific, brilliant, and highly original contributor.
Indeed, the rising prestige of the field, both in and out of the academy, owes a great deal to the work for which Harry is being honored in this issue. His pioneering studies of what used to be called illegitimacy, as well as the amicus curiae briefs he authored in leading cases, were influential in bringing about the demise of laws discriminating against children born outside legal marriage. The decisions in which the United States Supreme Court applied the concept of equal protection to the situation of nonmarital children were among the first signs that family law was about to be extensively constitutionalized. Later, when the evasion of child support became a national issue, Harry's work, again, played a major role in shaping the terms of the debate, as well as the form of congressional intervention. Harry was also quick to see the implications for family law of many technological and scientific advances.
Of all the features that life Harry's work out of the ordinary, four deserve to be specifically recognized and honored on this occasion. First, as his lifelong advocacy on behalf of children testifies, he has been a champion of the most vulnerable and least advantaged members of our society. Second, as his nuanced writings on child support demonstrate, commitment to a particular reform has not blinded him to its possible abuses, excesses, or unintended side effects. Third, his deft use of comparative law, especially in his family law casebooks, has been a model for law teachers in all fields, demonstrating how the experiences of other countries can assist us in understanding problems within our own country. Finally, Harry seems to possess complete immunity to the temptations of intellectual fads and fancies. In and out of season, he has bent his efforts towards gaining knowledge rather than popularity. Though he often writes as an advocate, he does so candidly, thereby avoiding the genre in which partisanship masquerades as scholarship. This is admirable self-discipline from one who has written so extensively about so many "cutting edge" issues.
His devotion to the cause of knowledge for its own sake helps to explain why Harry's early work holds up so well while more recent efforts by many other scholars already look dated. Harry is a rare combination--a scholar's scholar and an academic who strives to be useful to the legal profession, to the persons affected by family law, and to the polity. When one contemplates his lengthy bibliography and considers the long hours he has devoted to public service, one can only stand in awe of his energy and achievements. Few of his contemporaries can match his record of influential writings plus his participation in law reform activities, including those of the American Law Institute and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. He has given freely of his time and advice to state, federal, and foreign governments.
Like Max Rheinstein, Harry Krause combines many of the strengths of the civil law scholar with those of the common law lawyer. The Romano-Germanic legal systems have traditionally treated family law as an essential link between law and culture, one of the noblest and most demanding fields of civil law. And that is how Harry has consistently approached his main subject--with a sense of high calling and a razor-sharp intellect. At the same time, he has brought to family law the common sense and reforming zeal that are more characteristic of the American legal profession. Added to that dual inheritance and shining through in everything he does are Harry's own inimitable qualities--an inquiring mind, a generous spirit, and a kind heart. May he continue to enrich the practice and study of American law with his unique gifts for many years to come!
* Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University.
This article is reprinted by permission of The Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, a publication of The Catholic University School of Law, which published it as "Harry D. Krause: Scholar for All Seasons," in Volume 12, Issue #2, pages xi-xii (1996).