Updated at 12:06 p.m.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced a deadlock in a major legal challenge to President Obama’s immigration plan Thursday, effectively crippling the administration’s plans to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The Court announced its paralysis in U.S. v. Texas with a simple eight-word sentence: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”
When the justices split 4-4, the lower court’s decision becomes the last word on the matter. That preserves federal district judge Andrew Hanen’s preliminary injunction against the program, which he issued in February 2015. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Arkansas, Louisiana, and the border state of Texas, upheld the injunction last November.
Speaking to reporters from the White House shortly after the ruling, President Obama expressed his disappointment with the outcome, calling it both “frustrating” and “heartbreaking for the millions of immigrants who made their lives here.”
“It takes us further from the country we aspire to be,” he added.
Obama also used the deadlock to criticize Senate Republicans for refusing to consider Merrick Garland, his nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. “The Court’s inability to reach a decision in a very clear reminder of why it is so important for the Supreme Court to have a full bench,” he said.