Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Secret Case

In an astounding decision the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear the “secret case.”

The Supreme Court’s decision means it is okay for a federal appellate court’s published calendar to be obliterated to omit the names of litigants; a federal appellate court’s computer records to be altered to remove from public view any information about the case; a federal appellate court to close its courtroom to the public and the press to hear arguments in a case; and for litigants to be prohibited from talking about it.

I didn’t think this could happen in America.

The Associated Press via the Washington Post reports that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear the "secret case."

In the "secret case," M.K.B. v. Warden, 03-6747, the Supreme Court was asked to consider whether two federal courts acted improperly in keeping a case so secret that its mere existence was revealed only by accident.

The "secret case" concerned an Algerian who worked as a waiter in South Florida and came under FBI scrutiny because September 11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al Shehhi dined where he worked in the weeks before the attacks.

In this unprecedented case, two federal courts sealed an entire proceeding and appeal, including every court filing and ruling, with no public order giving any reason for the secrecy and without making any distinction between information that should be public and that which might justifiably be secret.

You can read what is known about the secret case here.

The Supreme Court made no comment in deciding not to hear the "secret case." The Court's decision is available here, at page 23.

Posted by Dan Spencer at February 23, 2004 1:36 PM