Albertson v. Millard

In Albertson v. Millard, 345 U. S. 242 (1953), the Communist Party of the State of Michigan and its secretary sought to enjoin on several constitutional grounds the application to them of a state statute, five days after its passage, requiring registration, under pain of criminal penalties, of "any organization which is substantially directed, dominated or controlled by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or its satellites, or which . . . acts to further, the world communist movement" and of members of such an organization. They argued that the definitions were vague and failed to inform them if a local Communist organization and its members were required to register. The lower court took judicial notice of the fact that the Communist Party of the United States, with whom the local party was associated, was a part of the world Communist movement dominated by the Soviet Union, and held the statute constitutional in all other respects. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and declined to pass on the appellants' constitutional claims until the Michigan courts, in a suit already pending, construed the statutory terms and determined if they required the local Party and its secretary, without more, to register. The approach was that the constitutional claims, including the one founded on vagueness, would be wholly eliminated if the statute, as construed by the state court, did not require all local Communist organizations without substantial ties to a foreign country and their members to register. Stated differently, the question was whether this statute applied to these plaintiffs, a question to be authoritatively answered in the state courts.