The Supreme Court has spoken…for now. A split 4-4 vote has blocked Obama’s amnesty initiative, though the case can be reintroduced to the court after the bench is filled with the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement.
A tie vote by the Supreme Court is blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration plan that sought to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation. The justices’ one-sentence opinion on Thursday effectively kills the plan for the rest of Obama’s presidency. The outcome underscores that the direction of U.S. immigration policy will be determined in large part by this fall’s presidential election, a campaign in which immigration already has played an outsized role.
People who would have benefited from the programs face no imminent threat of deportation because Congress has provided money to deal with only a small percentage of people who live in the country illegally, and the president retains ample discretion to decide whom to deport.
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Since the vote was tied, it does not set any national legal precedent, it simply sends the case back to the lower courts. However, it does mean that Obama’s hope of making amnesty a part of his political legacy is officially shattered.
The next president of the United States will determine whether the tie-breaking vote on cases like this lean toward the progressive decision, or the conservative decision. The stakes this November are higher than ever.