WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court has stepped into a dispute over whether lawyers can obtain personal information from driver license records to recruit clients for lawsuits, despite a federal privacy law intended to shield motor vehicle records.

The justices agreed Tuesday to hear an appeal from three South Carolinians who objected to solicitations from lawyers to join a lawsuit against car dealers. Among the lawyers named in the Supreme Court appeal is Richard Harpootlian, who also is chairman of the South Carolina Democratic party.

At issue is whether lawyers may use information gleaned from South Carolina driver records, which they obtained by filing open records requests. A federal law aimed at protecting driver records has an exception for lawsuits and the court will determine whether the lawyers' actions qualify.