The Supreme Court accepts a second case of “state secrets” over whether the lawsuit claiming the FBI spied on American Muslims can go ahead.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether to pursue a lawsuit in which a group of Muslims living in California alleges FBI directed by vigilance because of their religion.
It is the second case the court has accepted for the fall involving a government claim of “state secrets,” the idea that the government can block the dissemination of information it claims would harm national security if revealed.
This legal precedent comes from the 1953 U.S. v. Reynolds case that saw the Supreme Court maintain state secret privilege after the widows of three men who died in a plane crash called for accident reports to sue the U.S. government. The government claimed that the publication of the reports would endanger national security.
As usual, the court did not comment on Monday beyond saying it will take the case, which is expected to be heard after the court passes the summer recess and begins hearing arguments in October.
In the other case of state secrets, the judges have agreed that they will decide whether to Palestinian man captured after the 9/11 attacks and detained in U.S. base prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can gain access to information that the government classifies as state secrets.
Privilege is often invoked in civil lawsuits. These cases are abandoned when a plaintiff is denied access to inside information, which is usually necessary for the case to continue.
Judges will rarely review inside information, even in private.
The court case accepted Monday involves three Muslim residents of Southern California who say that from 2006 to 2007 the FBI paid a confidential informant to collect covert information about Muslims in Orange County, California, based solely on their religion.
A district court dismissed the case after the federal government invoked the privilege of state secrets. The court agreed that continuing the case “would pose a high risk of disclosure of secret information.” But an appeals court overturned the decision.
The San Francisco Court of Appeals ruled that the privileges of state secrets do not exceed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, the Bloomberg news agency reported.
This law allows a judge to review the disputed information in a closed-door hearing to decide whether surveillance was warranted.
The FBI has done it criticism faced for a long time on his surveillance of Muslim communities in the US. Al Jazeera investigated the surveillance of Muslim communities by counterterrorism operations in the 2014 documentary “Informants.”