The Dickmans owned a house in Belle Terre. In or around 1971 to 1972, the Dickmans leased the house out to six students at a nearby university, none of whom were related by blood, adoption, or marriage. Belle Terre had a zoning ordinance which restricted land use to one-family dwellings, with “family” being defined as persons related by blood, adoption, or marriage, or two unmarried cohabitating people. The Village of Belle Terre (defendant) cited the Dickman house for a violation of this ordinance because the six students living in the house were not a “family.” The Dickmans and their tenants (plaintiffs) brought suit alleging that the ordinance violated their equal protection rights. The district court upheld the ordinance as constitutional, and the Court of Appeals reversed. The Village appealed to the United States Supreme Court.