WASHINGTON — Justice Anthony M. Kennedy granted a request from Trump administration lawyers Monday and temporarily blocked a 9th Circuit Court order that would have allowed more refugees to enter the United States from six majority-Muslim nations.
The government had asked for a "temporary administrative stay" to give the justices time to consider the issue.
A 9th Circuit order, due to take effect Tuesday, would have cleared the way for as many as 24,000 refugees who have "a sponsorship-assurance agreement" with a U.S.-based refugee-resettlement agency, the government said.
The administration says that definition is too broad because it covers foreigners who would have "no contact" with anyone in this country until they arrive here.
But President Donald Trump's legal team gave up — for now — trying to apply the ban to grandparents of people who live here. Last week, the 9th Circuit said that grandparents are close relatives and therefore — according to an earlier Supreme Court order — may not be denied entry under the disputed travel ban.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Oct. 10 on the legality of Trump's travel ban.
In late June, the justices handed down a short, middle-ground ruling that said the travel ban may take effect, but not against those who have a "close" family tie to someone in this country or against refugees who "claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."
Since then, lawyers for Hawaii, which sued to block the ban, and the Trump administration have continued to fight over who is covered by those standards.
"The court's immediate intervention is needed once more," acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall said in an emergency motion filed with Kennedy, who oversees the 9th Circuit.
Shortly afterward, Kennedy granted the stay. He is likely to see a reply from lawyers for Hawaii, and then turn the matter over to the full court.