A constitutional fight is brewing over whether lawyers in civil cases have a right to access and disseminate classified national security information to pursue claims against the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Justice is trying to quell the growing dispute in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, urging a federal trial judge to decide two suits without having to confront a potential separation-of-powers skirmish. Mark Zaid, a longtime attorney for clients in the intelligence field, is testing DOJ’s assertion that the executive branch has sole discretion over the control and use of classified information, leaving the judiciary out of any decision-making role.