WASHINGTON — A reporter who has been ordered to divulge the identity of the source of classified information lost his bid Monday to get the Supreme Court to clarify whether journalists have a right to protect their confidential sources.

Without comment, the justices rejected an appeal from New York Times reporter James Risen to revisit the court’s 42-year-old ruling that has raised questions about journalists’ ability to shield from public view the names of people who tell them government secrets. Risen detailed a botched CIA effort during the Clinton administration to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

His reporting is at the center of criminal charges against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling of disclosing government secrets.

Federal prosecutors want to force Risen to testify about his sources at Sterling’s trial, but Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested that the Justice Department could find a way to defuse the situation and not subject Risen to time in jail should he refuse to testify as ordered.