Plaintiff deportee brought an action against the District Director of Immigration and Naturalization seeking a declaration that a deportation order issued against him by the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization was invalid, alleging a lack of due process in the hearing and asking injunctive relief against the enforcement of the order. The defendant district director moved to dismiss the action for lack of an indispensable party. Held: the commissioner is not an indispensable party to an action to review an order of deportation.

The term “indispensable party” is used in the federal courts to describe a party without whom the court cannot proceed. The first case involving the question of indispensability of superior governmental officers in an action against a subordinate was Warner Valley Stock Co. v. Smith. That case held the superior officer indispensable on the ground that the purpose of the suit was to control his action. Subsequent to this decision many cases were decided without raising the question. Twenty-seven years later the United States Supreme Court reiterated the doctrine in Gnerich v. Rutter, followed shortly by Webster v. Toll. These three cases were ignored in Colorado v. Toll which allowed the action to proceed without the superior officer, holding that he was not indispensable. Irreconcilable conflict followed, with courts following both lines of authority. Williams v. Fanning unsuccessfully attempted to settle the controversy by ruling that the superior is not indispensable “. . . if the decree granted will effectively grant the relief desired by expending itself on the subordinate official who is before the court.” Efforts to apply this rule have resulted in a conflict in deportation order cases.