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Knoxville — The Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez have asked the United States Supreme Court to help them keep the boy in the U.S. until the appeals process is complete.

The family asked Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to extend the injunction preventing Elian and his father from leaving the U.S. until the appeals process has finished.

The motion by the family came minutes after a federal appeals court rejected their request to let the 6-year-old boy apply for political asylum.

A University of Tennessee law professor said Thursday that the federal appeal did not have a great chance of success, but it was worth a try.

“Under the circumstances of this case, their chances of success were relatively small,” Neil Cohen said, “but it was not a useless enterprise.”

“The rules are different regarding Cuban applicants for political asylum in the United States, so it was an issue appropriately presented to the courts,” Cohen said.

The U.S. Justice Department and Elian’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, hailed the victory Thursday, saying the father should have the final word on where the boy lives.

Cuban-American political groups in Miami expressed disappointment in the ruling, promising political revenge against the Clinton administration and Vice-President Albert Gore in the November elections.

Cohen said politics does not usually affect the justice system in the U.S., as it seems to have happened in Miami.

“It’s really rare in the American system to have politics be involved this blatantly in the judicial process,” Cohen said. “It happens, but in a much more subtle way in ordinary cases.”