The Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear a case weighing the government’s alleged surveillance of Muslims.
The case was originally brought by Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, an imam at the Orange County Islamic Foundation in California, and two practicing Muslims, Ali Uddin Malik and Yasser AbdelRahim, each of whom was targeted and surveilled by an FBI informant in 2006 and 2007.
They alleged the FBI violated their constitutional rights.
The informant was to pose as a convert to Islam and the FBI “told him to gather as much information on as many people in the Muslim community as possible,” according to court papers.
After the informant began urging violence, members of the Islamic community reported him to the FBI, ironically.
The district court ruled for the federal government, dismissing the action on the basis of the state secrets privilege, which allows the government to withhold material if it could endanger national security.
A federal appeals court, though, reversed that ruling, siding with the Muslims. That prompted the federal government to appeal to the high court and the justices granted review in the case on Monday.
“Our system of checks and balances requires that courts be open to hearing claims that the government has violated the Constitution,” said Mohammad Tajsar, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in California, which is representing the Muslims.
“The government shouldn’t be able to avoid accountability for unconstitutionally targeting U.S. citizens and permanent residents for surveillance in their homes here in the U.S. because of their religion, simply because they say the violations were part of a counterterrorism investigation,” Mr. Tajsar added.
The court did not comment on the case. It took at least four justices to agree to hear the matter.
The legal battle will be considered during the court’s next term, which begins in October.