Rubey Mosley Hulen

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Rubey Mosley Hulen (July 9, 1894 – July 7, 1956) was a United States federal judge. In July, 1950, Judge Hulen issued a landmark injunction requiring the City of St. Louis, Missouri to open its Fairgrounds and Marquette swimming pools to people of color.


Born in Hallsville, Missouri, Hulen graduated from Kansas City School of Law in 1914. He was in private practice in Centralia, Missouri from 1915 to 1917. He was in the United States Army Lieutenant Commander from 1917 to 1918. He was a Prosecuting attorney of Boone County, Missouri from 1920 to 1924. He was in private practice in St. Louis, Missouri from 1919 to 1943. Lecturer, Washington University Law School,.

Hulen was a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Hulen was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 8, 1943,[1] to a seat vacated by Charles B. Davis. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 8, 1943, and received his commission on July 14, 1943. Hulen served in that capacity until his death.

Influence on Brown v. Board of Education[edit]

On June 19, 1950, three African Americans attempted to enter the Fairgrounds Park Pool in St. Louis, Missouri, in contravention of the city's segregation policy, which had been re-instituted following one day of integration in 1949 which culminated in The Fairgrounds Park Riot. A pool attendant told the three African Americans attempting access in June, 1950 that they needed permits to enter the pool. The St. Louis chapter of the NAACP sued in US District Court, seeking a court order requiring desegration of the city's swimming pools.

In the St. Louis case, in the course of an exchange with the city's attorney (who happened to be named James Crowe), Judge Hulen asked rhetorically: "Does the viewpoint of the community set aside the Constitution? Is the Constitution to be shelved for an hour, or set aside, because one part of the community happens to have an antipathy towards it?"

In his ruling, Judge Hulen "suggested that racial exclusion from any municipal pool, even if another truly equal pool were provided, might still violate the Constitution."[2] Hulen observed that a comparable pool "may mitigate discrimination, but it will not validate it as to other sections of the city."

Author Jeff Wiltse remarks that "Hulen seemed to be saying that a black swimmer who had to walk past a whites-only pool to get to a truly equal Jim Crow pool would not be receiving equal treatment under the law, as mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment."

Judge Hulen's 1950 court order laid the groundwork for the May, 1954 United States Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

This is the essence of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, that a black student should not have to travel to a more distant segregated school. In that case, the plaintiff's daughter, Linda, a third grader, had to walk six blocks to her school bus stop to ride to Monroe Elementary, her segregated black school one mile away, while Sumner Elementary, a white school, was only seven blocks from her house.[3]


Rubey M. Hulen Memorial Honor Scholarships are awarded each year to outstanding entering University of Missouri - Kansas City law students from a fund provided by the will of Anna Hulen, widow of Rubey M. Hulen, a distinguished alumnus of the University of Missouri - Kansas City.[4]


  1. ^ "History of the Federal Judiciary". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Wiltse Jeff (2007). Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pool in America. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. ISBN 978-0-8078-3100-7 p. 178
  3. ^ Brown v. Board of Education
  4. ^ Rubey M. Hulen Memorial Honor Scholarship

External links[edit]


Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles B. Davis
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
Succeeded by
Randolph Henry Weber