Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shaughnessy v. United States Ex Rel. Mezei case brief

Shaughnessy v. United States Ex Rel. Mezei case brief summary
345 U.S. 206 (1953)

Petitioner immigration officials sought review of a judgment from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which granted respondent alien's petition for writ of habeas corpus. Respondent had been permanently excluded without a hearing pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 175.57 for national security reasons.

The Court reversed a judgment that granted respondent's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Respondent alien was born abroad and had previously lived in the United States for more than 25 years. Respondent left the United States and spent 19 months in Hungary. Upon his return, he was permanently excluded from the United States on national security grounds, pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 175.57. Respondent was stranded on Ellis Island, as no other country would grant him entry.


  • The Court held that respondent's continued exclusion without a hearing, lasting more than 21 months, did not constitute an unlawful detention and that the lower court erred in granting him temporary entry on bond. 
  • The Court distinguished respondent's situation from other cases that granted hearings to aliens. 
  • The Court stated that respondent was an entrant, under the meaning of the regulation, and he had no rights conferred upon him, and no protections under the Constitution. 
  • The Court held that neither respondent's harborage on Ellis Island, nor his previous residence in the United States, changed his status, and that he remained excludable.

The Court reversed the judgment and held that respondent was an entrant under the regulations and could be excluded without a hearing. Holding that respondent's previous residence in the United States and his harborage at Ellis Island did not change his status, the Court found that respondent's continued exclusion was not unconstitutional.

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