Foley v. Connelie 435 U.S. 291 (1978)

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FOLEY v. CONNELIE 435 U.S. 291 (1978)

New York excluded aliens from employment as state troopers. In an opinion by Chief Justice warren e. burger, the Supreme Court held, 6–3, that this discrimination did not violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. The Court took its cue from obiter dicta in sugarman v. dougall (1973) concerning "political community." Although the admission of aliens for permanent residence showed congressional intent to grant them full participation in earning a livelihood and receiving such state benefits as welfare and education, the "right to govern" could be limited to citizens. Police officers, like high executive officials, exercise discretionary governmental power, whose abuse can have "serious impact on individuals." (The Chief Justice may have had a vision of an alien trooper inviting a citizen to spreadeagle over the hood of a car.)

Justices thurgood marshall, william j. brennan, and john paul stevens dissented: the "execution of broad public policy" mentioned in Sugarman had not included the day-to-day execution of the law but the formulation of broad policy. The disloyalty of aliens could not be conclusively presumed.

Kenneth L. Karst