The Supreme Court refused Monday to help Jonathan Pollard erase his life sentence for spying for Israel.
Pollard's lawyers wanted the justices to reopen his case, so that they could pursue secret documents the government submitted to the judge who sentenced Pollard in 1987.
Pollard sold military secrets to Israel while he worked at the Defense Department's Pentagon headquarters. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty. The Supreme Court had already refused to let the former Navy intelligence analyst withdraw the guilty plea.
The latest Supreme Court case was not about spying, but about government authority to keep records used in court sealed from the public.
A federal appeals court said last summer that it had no authority to review requests for the documents, which Pollard contends will help his bid for presidential clemency.
One of his attorneys, Eliot Lauer, told justices in a filing that the Justice Department, which opposes clemency, has been "given the unfettered power to decide who may or may not have access to those docket materials."
"The DOJ is not neutral and is not an arm of the judiciary," Lauer wrote in the appeal.
Pollard's case has been a sticking point in US-Israeli relations. The Israeli government granted Pollard citizenship and has repeatedly pressed for his release.