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Supreme Court accepts “state secrets” cases for review

The Supreme Court has added two cases to its docket that will examine the possible limitations of the “sate secrets” doctrine. These cases involve Navy and military contractors whose contracts have been terminated. The contractors have refused the requested return of $1.35 billion to the Navy. The government now seeks about $3 billion.

The cases, now consolidated into one, arise from a 1988 fixed-price contract to produce “an aircraft carrier-based version of the ‘stealth’ fighter plane.” While the contractors claim they were denied access to critical secret technology preventing them from successfully manufacturing the plane, the Navy claims that General Dynamics and Boeing simply failed to produce.

In the leading state secrets case, the Supreme Court ruled for the government in a case in which the government was the defendant, citing state secrets. However “the court said things might be different if the government were pressing a claim rather than defending against one.” In the current case of contractors versus the government, there is disagreement as to which party is the plaintiff and which is the defendant.

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