April 2022 Church & State Magazine

Supreme Court Narrows Ability Of Muslims To Challenge Surveillance

  Supreme Court Narrows Ability Of Muslims To Challenge Surveillance

The Supreme Court last month issued a unanimous, but narrow, ruling in a case brought by Muslims challenging surveillance of their mosque by the FBI.

The Islamic Center of Irvine, Calif., came under FBI scrutiny after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. When the spying came to light, several members of the mosque sued, charging that the FBI’s activities violated their religious freedom. (No illegal activity was found to have occurred at the mosque.)

A federal appeals court ruled that the case should be allowed to go forward, but the Supreme Court reversed. In an opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito, the court ruled in favor of the federal government, which argued that allowing the case to proceed could risk disclosing classified information and pose a threat to national security.

The court ruled that government’s need to keep some information secret means that courts do not have the power to review certain forms of electronic surveillance, reported ABC News.

“We are hoping to shed light on the agency that continues to treat Muslims as second-class citizens unlawfully targeting Americans on the basis of their religion,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told ABC last year.

Alito noted that the plaintiffs can pursue the FBI v. Fazaga case on different grounds.

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