Foley was a permanent resident
of the US who was trying to become a naturalized US citizen. He applied
for a job as a policeman in New York, but was denied.
At the time, New York law
required that all policemen be US citizens.
Foley sued, claiming that the
citizenship requirement was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal
Protection Clause of the 14th
Specifically, the Equal
Protection Clause says that "no person shall be denied equal protection under the
laws...," it does not say "citizen."
The US Supreme Court found for
New York and found the citizenship requirement to be constitutionally
The US Supreme Court found
that while strict scrutiny is the
general level of judicial review for cases in which non-citizens are
making claims based on equal protection (aka alienage classifications), there is an exception for cases related to
self-government and the democratic process.
In those cases, the much
lower rational basis review is to
Basically, a State may deny
aliens the right to vote, hold political office, or serve on juries, as
long as they can show a rational basis.
The Court found that a
policeman's broad powers over citizens was a good enough rational
basis to deny non-citizens from the
The Court noted that there
must be some benefits to being a
citizen over not being a citizen, otherwise, what's the point of applying