The Supreme Court halted implementation of President Obama’s executive action on immigration on Thursday when it deadlocked 4-4 in the case United States v. Texas.
The executive action in question, laid out in a Department of Homeland Security memorandum in 2014, specified that certain illegal immigrants would not be prosecuted and deported from the country. These illegal immigrants would also become eligible for certain federal and state benefits, such as Social Security and Medicare.
Illegal immigrants who have a child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and who meet certain other conditions are eligible for the executive action. It is estimated the executive order would apply to 4.3 million out of the approximately 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Texas and 25 other states sued the administration, contending that the president was violating his responsibility to "Take care that the laws be faithfully executed" by granting broad immunity to illegal immigrants. The states also claimed the executive action violated the Administrative Procedures Act.
The one-sentence ruling issued by the Supreme Court today states the judgment of lower courts "is affirmed by an equally divided Court."
Last November, an appeals court upheld an injunction against Obama’s executive action, stating that the states had "established a substantial likelihood of success on the merits" of their complaint that the executive action violated administrative law. The appeals court did not take a position on the constitutional challenge to the executive action.
Today’s 4-4 Supreme Court decision halts implementation of the executive action until other courts resolve whether it is lawful.
The Supreme Court has had only eight members since Justice Antonin Scalia died earlier this year.