Phillips vs. PUHS

Judge Fred C. Struckmeyer, Jr. (1912-1992)

Judge Fred C. Struckmeyer, Jr., a native of Phoenix, was the son of Fred Struckmeyer, Sr., who served one term on the Superior Court in Maricopa County from 1923-1925. Judge Struckmeyer served in the Army during World War II and was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He became a Superior Court judge in 1950, before serving for 26 years as an Arizona Supreme Court justice. Judge Struckmeyer was known to be an excellent legal scholar and strict constitutionalist. He was also a recognized authority on Arizona water law. After his mandatory retirement at the age of 70 he was appointed to the Arizona Racing Commission.

On February 9, 1953, Judge Struckmeyer decided the case Phillips vs. Phoenix Union High Schools and Junior College District. At the time, the Carver High School, at 415 E. Grant St. in Phoenix, was the only legally segregated high school in the state. The Phillips case was filed by Hayzel B. Daniels, the first African-American to pass the Arizona bar examination and one of the first two African-Americans elected to the Arizona legislature, and long-time prominent Phoenix attorney Herbert B. Finn. Neither lawyer was paid for his work; Daniels paid the court filing fee out himself.

Writing that "a half century of intolerance is enough," Judge Struckmeyer ruled that the Arizona law permitting school boards to segregate pupils was unconstitutional, and the Phoenix Union district's segregation of African-American students was illegal. His decision was made a year before the U.S. Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education.

Below are links to PDFs of the documents filed in the Phillips case, including Judge Struckmeyer's decision. The PDFs were made from the official microfilm of the original documents.

Significant Dates in Judge Struckmeyer's Career

1912    Born in Phoenix
1936    Received law degree from University of Arizona
1936    Admitted to Arizona Bar
1939    Became a deputy county attorney
1942    Served in United States Army during World War II
1946    Returned to private practice
1950    Appointed to Superior Court in Maricopa County
1953    Ruled that there was no legal authority for segregation in Arizona
1955-1982    Served for 26 years on the Arizona Supreme Court
1982    Appointed to the Arizona Racing Commission
1992    Died on June 22, at age of 80


  • Boone, Linda C. "The Days of 'Haze': A Personal Journey Down the Back Road To Brown v. Board of Education." 36 Arizona Attorney 38 (March 2000).
  • "Frederick Christian Struckmeyer, Jr.," in Marquis Who's Who, 2004 ed. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hill MI: Thomson Gale, 2005
  • "Struckmeyer, Fred C., Jr.," in The American Bench: Judges of the Nation. Sacramento, CA: Reginald Bishop Forster & Associates, 1985
  • Superior Court in Arizona, 1912-1984: A History of the Court in Each County Since Statehood.
    [Phoenix, AZ]: The Arizona Supreme Court, 1985
  • Treadwell-Rubin, Pamela. "A Blessing of 'Firsts'." 40 Arizona Attorney 6 (January 2004)
  • Zarbin, Earl. The Bench and the Bar: A History of Maricopa County's Legal Professions. Chatsworth, CA: Windsor Publications, 1991 (Photo, p.65)


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