SCOTUS deals another setback to Obama's effort to shield immigrants from deportation

AP

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to reconsider its June ruling on President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, leaving in place its decision to block implementation of programs to defer the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants.

Acting Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn filed a brief in July asking the court to reconsider the case once a ninth justice has been confirmed to fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose position on the bench has been empty since his death in February. 

While Gershengorn noted that it's "exceedingly rare" for the court to rehear cases following a ruling, he argued that there was precedent for rehearing a case that was decided by a divided court.

The court rejected that argument on Monday, dealing another blow to the administration's attempts to shield up to 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. 

The courtroom in the Supreme Court  Alex Wong/Getty Images

The case, United States v. Texas, arose after 26 states sued the federal government in 2015 over the Obama administration's immigration plans, arguing they amounted to an unconstitutional power grab. A lower court ruled in favor of the states, blocking implementation of the programs and sending the case to the Supreme Court.

The court issued a one-sentence ruling in June saying they had deadlocked in a 4-4 tie between the court's liberal and conservative wings. The tie meant the lower court's ruling against the Obama administration's programs stood. 

The seat left open by Scalia's death has been the subject of an intense political battle. Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to replace Scalia in March, but Senate Republicans have refused to hold hearings to consider his confirmation, arguing that the next president should appoint Scalia's successor.

The future of immigration policy will also largely be determined by the next president. Hillary Clinton has said she plans to make immigration reform a top priority in the first 100 days of her administration and would seek to revive the programs blocked by the Supreme Court. Donald Trump has said he will build a wall on the Mexican border and get Mexico to pay for it, while simultaneously rounding up and deporting the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

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