Turner v. Williams
194 U.S. 279 (1904)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Turner v. Williams, 194 U.S. 279 (1904)

Turner v. Williams

No. 661

Argued April 6-7, 1904

Decided May 16, 1904

194 U.S. 279

Syllabus

Congress has power to exclude aliens from, and to prescribe the conditions on which they may enter, the United States; to establish regulations for deporting aliens who have illegally entered, and to commit the enforcements of such conditions and regulations to executive officers. Deporting, pursuant to law, an alien who has illegally entered the United States does not deprive him of his liberty without due process of law.

The Alien Immigration Act of March, 1903, 32 Stat. 1213, does not violate the federal Constitution, nor are its provisions as to the exclusion of aliens who are anarchists, unconstitutional.

A board of inquiry and the Secretary of Commerce and Labor having found that an alien immigrant was an anarchist within the meaning of the Alien

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Immigration Act of March 3, 1903, and there being evidence on which to base this conclusion, his exclusion, or his deportation after having unlawfully entered the country within the period prescribed pursuant to the provisions of the act, will not be reviewed on the facts.

John Turner filed in the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York, October 26, 1903, a petition alleging --

"First. That, on October 23, in the City of New York, your relator was arrested by divers persons claiming to be acting by authority of the government of the United States, and was by said persons conveyed to the United States immigration station at Ellis Island, in the harbor of New York, and is now there imprisoned by the Commissioner of Immigration of the port of New York."

"Second. Your relator is so imprisoned by virtue of a warrant sworn out by the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Labor, which warrant charges your relator with being an anarchist, and being unlawfully within the United States, in violation of section 2 and section 20 of the immigration laws of the United States, as amended by Act of March 3, 1903."

"Third. Upon information and belief, that a special board of inquiry, consisting of Charles Semsey, Captain Weldon, supervising inspector, and L. C. Stewart, all of whom are executive officers of the United States, has inquired into your relator's case, and decided that your relator is an anarchist, and is in the United States in violation of law, within the meaning of the Act of March 3, 1903."

"Fourth. Your relator denies that he is an anarchist within the meaning of the immigration laws of the United States, and states to the court that about six years ago, he took out his first papers of application for citizenship in this country, and that he has at no times been engaged as a propagandist of doctrines inciting to, or advising, violent overthrow of government, but for about six years last past he has been the paid organizer of the retail clerks of Great Britain, and his business

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in this country is solely to promote the interests of organized labor, and that he has at all times conducted himself as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen."

"By reason of all of which facts, your relator says that his imprisonment is illegal, in that he is being deprived of his liberty without due process of law and is being denied equal protection of the laws, contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States."

And praying for a writ of habeas corpus to the Commissioner of Immigration of the port of New York, and also for a writ of certiorari to bring up the record of the board of inquiry which adjudged him to be an anarchist and in the United States in violation of the immigration laws. The commissioner made return under oath, and also certified the record of the board of inquiry.

The return stated --

"That the above-named John Turner is an alien, a subject of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; that said alien came to the United States from England on or about ten days prior to October 24, 1903, as deponent is informed and believes."

"Said John Turner was arrested in the City of New York on or about October 23, 1903, under a warrant issued by the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Labor of the United States, and was taken to the Ellis Island immigration station, where he was examined by a board of special inquiry, duly constituted according to law, upon his right to remain in this country, and that said alien was, by said board, found to be an alien anarchist, and was, by unanimous decision of said board, ordered to be deported to the country from whence he came, as a person within the United States in violation of law. That on October 26, 1903, said alien appealed from the said decision of the board of special inquiry to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, who dismissed the appeal, and directed that said alien be deported to the country from whence he came, upon the ground that said alien is an anarchist

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and a person who disbelieves in, and who is opposed to, all organized government, and was found to be in the United States in violation of law."

"That annexed hereto is a copy of the above mentioned warrant for the arrest and deportation of said John Turner, and copies of the minutes of said hearing before the board of special inquiry, and a copy of the order or decision of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor dismissing said appeal, and again directing deportation. That said John Turner is now held in deponent's custody at the Ellis Island immigration station, pending deportation to the country from whence he came, in accordance with the above-mentioned decision or order of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor."

The warrant issued by the Secretary was addressed to certain United States immigrant inspectors, and recited that, from the proofs submitted, the Secretary was satisfied that Turner, an alien anarchist, came into this country contrary to the prohibition of the Act of Congress of March 3, 1903, and commanded them to take him into custody, and return him to the country from whence he came at the expense of the United States. On appeal to the Secretary, the record of proceedings before the board of inquiry was transmitted, and the Secretary held:

"The evidence shows that the appellant declined to give exact information as to the manner in which he secured admission to this country, although he swears that he arrived here about ten days ago. He admits that he is an anarchist and an advocate of anarchistic principles, which brings him within the class defined by section 38 of the Act approved March 3, 1903. In view of these facts, the appeal is dismissed, and you are directed to deport the said John Turner, in conformity with warrant now in your hands for execution."

The hearing before the board of inquiry was had October 24, 1903, and it appeared from the minutes thereof that Turner testified that he was an Englishman; that he had been in the United States ten days, and that he did not come through New York, but declined to either affirm or deny that he arrived

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via Canada; that he would not undertake to deny that he had, in the lecture delivered in New York, October 23, declared himself to be an anarchist, which, he said, was a statement that he would make, and that the testimony of the inspectors was about correct. That evidence gave extracts from the address referred to, including these:

"Just imagine what a universal tie-up would mean. What would it mean in New York City alone if this idea of solidarity were spread through the city? If no work was being done, if it were Sunday for a week or a fortnight, life in New York would be impossible, and the workers, gaining audacity, would refuse to recognize the authority of their employers, and eventually take to themselves the handling of the industries. . . . All over Europe they are preparing for a general strike, which will spread over the entire industrial world. Everywhere the employers are organizing, and to me at any rate, as an anarchist, as one who believes that the people should emancipate themselves, I look forward to this struggle as an opportunity for the workers to assert the power that is really theirs."

Certain papers were found on Turner, one of them being a list of his proposed series of lectures (which, when the warrant was in execution, he rolled up and threw away), the subjects including: "The Legal Murder of 1887," and "The Essentials of Anarchism;" notices of meetings, one of a mass-meeting November 9 at which

"speeches will be delivered by John Turner in English, John Most, in German, and several other speakers. Don't miss this opportunity to hear the truth expressed about the great Chicago tragedy on the eleventh of November, 1887,"

and another, stating: "It may be interesting to all that Turner has recently refused to accept a candidacy to Parliament because of his anarchistic principles."

A demurrer was interposed to the return, and, after argument, the circuit court dismissed the writ and remanded the petitioner. 126 F. 253. From this order an appeal was prayed and allowed to this Court, and, having been docketed, petitioner was admitted to bail.

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Sections 2 and 38 of the Act of March 3, 1903, entitled "An Act to Regulate the Immigration of Aliens into the United States," 32 Stat. 1213, c. 1012, are as follows:

"SEC. 2. That the following classes of aliens shall be excluded from admission into the United States: all idiots, insane persons, epileptics, and persons who have been insane within five years previous; persons who have had two or more attacks of insanity at any time previously; paupers; persons likely to become a public charge; professional beggars; persons afflicted with a loathsome or with a dangerous contagious disease; persons who have been convicted of a felony or other crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; polygamists, anarchists, or persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the government of the United States or of all government or of all forms of law, or the assassination of public officials; prostitutes, and persons who procure or attempt to bring in prostitutes or women for the purpose of prostitution; those who have been, within one year from the date of the application for admission to the United States, deported as being under offers, solicitations, promises or agreements to perform labor or service of some kind therein, and also any person whose ticket or passage is paid for with the money of another, or who is assisted by others to come, unless it is affirmatively and satisfactorily shown that such person does not belong to one of the foregoing excluded classes; but this section shall not be held to prevent persons living in the United States from sending for a relative or friend who is not of the foregoing excluded classes: Provided, That nothing in this act shall exclude persons convicted of an offense purely political, not involving moral turpitude: And provided further, That skilled labor may be imported, if labor of like kind unemployed cannot be found in this country: And provided further, That the provisions of this law applicable to contract labor shall not be held to exclude professional actors, artists, lecturers, singers, ministers of any religious denomination, professors for colleges or seminaries, persons

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belonging to any recognized learned profession, or persons employed strictly as personal or domestic servants."

"SEC. 38. That no person who disbelieves in, or who is opposed to, all organized government, or who is a member of, or affiliated with, any organization entertaining and teaching such disbelief in, or opposition to, all organized government, or who advocates or teaches the duty, necessity, or propriety of the unlawful assaulting or killing of any officer or officers, either of specific individuals or of officers generally, of the government of the United States or of any other organized government, because of his or their official character, shall be permitted to enter the United States or any territory or place subject to the jurisdiction thereof. This section shall be enforced by the Secretary of the Treasury, under such rules and regulations as he shall prescribe."

"That any person who knowingly aids or assists any such person to enter the United States or any territory or place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, or who connives or conspires with any person or persons to allow, procure, or permit any such person to enter therein, except pursuant to such rules and regulations made by the Secretary of the Treasury, shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned for not less than one nor more than five years, or both."

By the Act of February 14, 1903, 32 Stat. 825, c. 552, "To Establish the Department of Commerce and Labor," the jurisdiction, supervision, and control possessed and exercised by the Department of the Treasury over the immigration of aliens into the United States were transferred to the Department of Commerce and Labor established by the act, to take effect and be in force the first day of July, 1903.

Page 194 U. S. 289

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