Supreme Court to rule on FBI’s move to block Muslim civil rights suit

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to take up the federal government’s claim that allowing a civil rights lawsuit filed by Muslims in California to proceed would reveal secrets that could damage national security.

The case involves the FBI’s use of an informant who posed as a convert to Islam after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and attended mosques for more than a year in Orange County. According to the lawsuit, he struck up conversations and attended meetings and lectures, sometimes secretly recording them.

The effort “explicitly targeted Muslims because of their religion,” violating their religious freedom, a lawyer for the Muslims told the Supreme Court.

“The explicit purpose of this operation was to gather information on Muslims in Orange County — not terrorists, spies, or even ordinary criminals, but Muslims,” they said.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, but the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals reversed that ruling. It said the state secrets privilege was displaced by a federal law governing evidence gathered with the permission of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

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