The Supreme Court seemed inclined to agree that Secret Service agents protecting the nation’s top officials deserve special protection from lawsuits charging them with being overzealous when they arrest people whom they believe — even wrongly — might be a threat.

The justices on Wednesday were considering whether a lawsuit by Steven Howards of Golden, Colo., could go forward. Howards is suing two Secret Service agents who he clams violated his First Amendment rights when they arrested him after he criticized then-Vice President Dick Cheney, touched his shoulder and then lied about his actions.

Sean Gallagher, an attorney for agents Virgil D. “Gus” Reichle Jr. and Dan Doyle, told the court that the men should not have to face lawsuits for doing their jobs.

“The issue before the court today is whether Secret Service agents who are prepared to take a bullet for the vice president must also be prepared to take a retaliatory arrest lawsuit, even when they have probable cause to make an arrest,” Gallagher said.

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