The ruling would have taken affect on Tuesday, reopening the door to 24,000 people left in limbo by President Donald Trump's on-again off-again travel ban.
The Justice Department wants to stay part of the appellate decision that said refugees should be allowed to enter if they have formal assurances from resettlement agencies that they will provide services when the refugees arrive. That filing, by Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, demonstrated the lengths to which the government is willing to go to impose its desired version of the ban, even before the high court takes up in earnest next month whether the measure is lawful at its core. The Supreme Court in July largely upheld that ruling, though it put on hold the portion dealing with refugees.
The 9th Circuit's ruling applies to the executive order, issued by President Donald Trump in the early days of his administration, which blocks travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days following its implementation.
The government had asked for a "temporary administrative stay" to give the justices time to consider the issue. Such a relationship can arise from a close family member in the United States, or from something like a job offer from an American company or an offer of admission to an American university.
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The ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, issued September 7, would exempt refugees who have received assurances of support from resettlement agencies from President Trump's refugee ban. Lower courts had blocked the ban, saying Trump overstepped his authority and unconstitutionally targeted Muslims.
Kennedy ordered challengers to the administration's refugee ban to submit written arguments in support of the lower court ruling by midday Tuesday. The district court also found that "grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in- law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States" count as "close familial relationships" exempted from the travel ban.
The order is temporary, and will likely last until the full Court weighs the refugee ban.
The high court is scheduled to hear arguments about the legality of the travel and refugee bans in October.
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