NewYorkUniversity
LawReview
Current Issue

Volume 83, Number 4

October 2008

The Grudge Informer Case Revisited

David Dyzenhaus

This Article explores a decision by a German postwar court—the Case of the Grudge Informer—which was central to the 1958 debate between H.L.A. Hart and Lon L. Fuller. The author argues that Fuller’s presentation of the problem in the case is better than Hart’s both as a descriptive matter and as a matter of promoting a morally responsible resolution—not least because Hart’s method of candor falls short of illuminating the complexities inherent in such cases. In particular, Hart’s positivist conception of law does not appreciate how judges in such cases have to contend with a connection between the doctrinal level and the fundamental level. At the former, judges have to resolve issues of substantive law such as the issues of criminal law in the Grudge Informer Case. At the latter, judges confront the question of what Fuller called their “ideal of fidelity to law,” since they are faced with questions about what legality—the principles of the rule of law—requires. The confrontation between such ideals is not, as Hart suggested, one that takes place in an extralegal political space. Rather, it is firmly within the scope of both law and the philosophy of law.