Foley v. Connelie


A lot in New York barred non-citizens from becoming state troopers.  Plaintiff was in the US legally as a “resident alien” but had not yet been granted his citizenship.  Because of his rejection Plaintiff sued under the equal protection clause.


Whether a law that bans non-citizens from becoming state troopers violates the equal protection clause.


No, the law is valid.  The courts had up to this point held alien status as a “strict scrutiny” level of analysis because aliens and foreign enjoyed a special history of discrimination and were a vulnerable minority class.  However, the court granted an exception for this level of scrutiny and applied minimum scrutiny because states have traditionally and legitimately disallowed aliens from participating in political institutions.  For example, states reasonably disallow aliens from voting, serving in office, or being on juries.  All of these distinctions are legitimate distinctions between aliens and citizens for states.  The court argued that the states needed to only show minimum scrutiny or a rational relationship between the legitimate state interest and the classification/discrimination resulting on non-citizens.  Policing is a basic, primary function of state government and therefore it is legitimate that a state require only citizens be allowed in its undertaking.

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