Emory Law News Center

Witte receives lifetime achievement award in family law
By Patti Ghezzi | Emory Law | September 22, 2016

John Witte, Jr.:
Harry Krause Lifetime Achievement Award in Family Law from the University of Illinois College of Law

John Witte, Jr., Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law, McDonald Distinguished Professor, and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, has received the Harry Krause Lifetime Achievement Award in Family Law from the University of Illinois College of Law.

Witte joins inaugural recipients, William Eskridge of Yale Law School, and Harry D. Krause of the University of Illinois College of Law. In addition to recognizing scholarly contributions to society’s understanding of the family and family law, the award honors those who have impacted the contours of the law.

Robin Fretwell Wilson, Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law and Director of the Family Law and Policy Program at Illinois, called Witte’s contributions to the field of marriage and family law “gargantuan.”

“Professor Witte is one of the most prolific scholars on marriage and family law history in the country,” Wilson said. “Equaling that scholarly record, he is one of the most giving, charitable colleagues I know, helping countless younger scholars…. He really cares about understanding the history of family and marriage law and how this affects family law today.”

Eskridge, John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale, is known for his work in same-sex marriage and has published extensively on legal and political framework for proper state treatment of sexual and gender minorities.

Krause, Max L. Rowe Professor Emeritus at University of Illinois College of Law, is a leading scholar in family law who contributed to the Treaty on International Adoptions, the Uniform Parentage Act, and the Uniform Putative Fathers Act.

“It is a great privilege to stand on the shoulders of Harry Krause and to gain a better view of the world,” Witte said. “Professor Krause was one of the great scholarly leaders who helped guide the transformation of American family law for half a century, and was a trailblazer in the protection of children and their rights.”

A specialist in legal history, marriage law, and religious liberty, Witte has published 250 articles, 16 journal symposia, and 30 books. His writings have been translated into 15 languages, and he has delivered more than 350 public lectures worldwide.

Witte’s work has been principally on the history of law, religion, and family, which he has analyzed in dozens of articles and nine books, including Sex, Marriage, and Family in the World Religions (Columbia University Press, 2006);To Have and to Hold: Marrying and its Documentation in Western Christendom, 400-1600 (Cambridge University Press, 2007); The Sins of the Fathers: The Law and Theology of Illegitimacy Reconsidered (Cambridge, 2009); From Sacrament to Contract: Religion, Marriage and Law in the Western Tradition (2d ed., Westminster John Knox Press, 2012); and The Western Case for Monogamy over Polygamy (Cambridge, 2015).

The Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University is the field's oldest, most recognized scholarly center. It engages 1,600 scholars worldwide and offers six advanced degrees, forty cross-listed courses, research projects, public forums, and international conferences.