The Governor of Illinois issued an executive order instituting a hiring freeze for state agencies, but allowing the agencies to petition the Governor to break the freeze. The Governor used these petitions to make sure state agencies only hired supporters of the Republican Party. Cynthia Rutan, et al. (plaintiffs) brought suit against the Governor and the Republican Party of Illinois (defendants). The plaintiffs claimed that they had either continually been denied promotions within state agencies, or had been denied employment at a state agency altogether, merely because they did not support the Republican Party. The United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.