Under New York state law, no person shall be appointed to the state police force unless he or she is a citizen of the United States. Edmund Foley (plaintiff) was lawfully in the United States as a permanent resident and was eligible to eventually become a naturalized citizen. He applied for admission to be a New York state trooper; a position conditioned on the passage of several competitive examinations. However, New York state officials prohibited Foley from taking the police department examinations because Foley was not a citizen. Foley brought suit against Connelie (defendant) in federal district court on the grounds that the New York state law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The district court upheld the law as constitutional, and Foley appealed to the United States Supreme Court.