Supreme Court agrees to hear 2nd 'state secrets' case

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a lawsuit can go forward in which a group of Muslim residents of California allege the FBI targeted them for surveillance because of their religion

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether a lawsuit can go forward in which a group of Muslim residents of California allege the FBI targeted them for surveillance because of their religion.

It's 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 release of information it claims would harm national security if disclosed.

As is usual, the court didn’t comment Monday beyond saying it will take the case, which is expected to be heard after the court takes its summer recess and begins hearing arguments again in October.

The case the court accepted Monday involves three Muslim residents of Southern California who say that from 2006 to 2007 the FBI paid a confidential informant to covertly gather information about Muslims in Orange County, California, based solely on their religion.

A district court dismissed the case after the federal government invoked the state secrets privilege. The court agreed that continuing the case would “greatly risk disclosure of secret information.” But an appeals court reversed the decision.