The Supreme Court said Friday that it will again hear arguments in the free-speech case of a whistleblower, apparently so that the new justice can break a tie.

The appeal was among about 20 that were heard, but not resolved, before Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired late last month and was replaced by Samuel Alito.

The Bush administration wants the court to use the case to make it harder for government whistleblowers to win lawsuits claiming retaliation. Justices had seemed conflicted last October when they took up the appeal involving Los Angeles County prosecutor Richard Ceballos, who asserted he was demoted for trying to expose a lie by a sheriff's deputy.

It was not clear from Friday's announcement if the case was the only one that will require a new argument session because of a 4-4 split. Justices also did not set a date for the case to be reargued.

The case is Garcetti v. Ceballos, 04-473.