WASHINGTON — A tie vote by the Supreme Court is blocking President 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 duration of Obama’s presidency.

A tie vote sets no national precedent but leaves in place the ruling by the lower court. In this case, the federal appeals court in New Orleans said the Obama administration lacked the authority to shield up to 4 million immigrants from deportation and make them eligible for work permits without approval from Congress.

Texas led 26 Republican-dominated states in challenging the program Obama announced in November 2014. Congressional Republicans also backed the states’ lawsuit.

The Obama administration announced the programs — protections for parents of children who are in the country legally and an expansion of the program that benefits people who were brought to this country as children — in November 2014. Obama decided to move forward after Republicans won control of the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections, and the chances for an immigration overhaul, already remote, were further diminished.

The Senate had passed a broad immigration bill with Democratic and Republican support in 2013, but the measure went nowhere in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

The states quickly went to court to block the Obama initiatives.

Their lawsuit was heard by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas. Hanen previously had criticized the administration for lax immigration enforcement. Hanen sided with the states, blocking the programs from taking effect. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled for the states, and the Justice Department rushed an appeal to the high court so that it could be heard this term.

High court limits state laws on drunk driving tests

The Supreme Court on Thursday placed new limits on state laws that make it a crime for motorists suspected of drunken driving to refuse alcohol tests.

The justices ruled that police must obtain a search warrant before requiring drivers to take blood alcohol tests, but not breath tests, which the court considers less intrusive.

The ruling came in three cases in which drivers challenged so-called implied consent laws in Minnesota and North Dakota as violating the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. State supreme courts in each state had upheld the laws.

Drivers in all 50 states can have their licenses revoked for refusing drunken driving tests. The court’s ruling affects laws in eleven states that impose additional criminal penalties for such refusals.

Writing for five justices in the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said breath tests do not implicate “significant privacy concerns.” Unlike blood tests, Alito said breathing into a breathalyzer doesn’t pierce the skin or leave a biological sample in the government’s possession.

Other states that criminalize a driver’s refusal to take alcohol blood or breath tests include Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

In all three cases before the high court, the challengers argued that warrantless searches should be allowed only in “extraordinary circumstances.” They said routine drunk driving stops count as ordinary law enforcement functions where traditional privacy rights should apply.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said they would have gone further and required search warrants for both breath and blood alcohol tests. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, saying he would have found both tests constitutional.

State officials called the testing laws a legitimate condition on the privilege of using state roads. State prosecutors argued that it was too burdensome for police to obtain a warrant every time a driver refused a test because some rural areas have only one judge on call late at night or on weekends. They also expressed concern that even if police get a warrant, a driver can still refuse to take an alcohol test and face lesser charges for obstruction.

Supreme Court hands affirmative action proponents major victory

In a major victory for affirmative action, a divided Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the University of Texas admissions program that takes account of race.

The justices voted in favor of the Texas program by a 4-3 vote, an outcome that was dramatically altered by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who opposed affirmative action.

The university considers race among many factors in admitting the last quarter of incoming freshmen classes. Texas fills most of the freshman class by guaranteeing admission to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their Texas high school class.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the Texas plan complied with earlier court rulings allowing colleges to take account of race in pursuit of diversity on campus. “The university has thus met its burden of showing that the admissions policy it used … was narrowly tailored,” Kennedy wrote.

The court’s three more conservative justices dissented, and Justice Samuel Alito read portions of his dissent from the bench.

In a separate dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas repeated his view that the Constitution outlaws any use of race in higher education admissions.

Just seven justices participated in the decision since Scalia’s death in February. Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case because she worked on it while serving in the Justice Department.

The high court ruled in the case of Abigail Fisher, a white Texan who was denied admission to the university’s flagship campus in Austin in 2008. Fisher claimed she was rejected while African-American applicants with lower grades and test scores were admitted. The school said Fisher, who did not graduate in the top 10 percent of her high school class, would not have been admitted with or without race as a factor. But officials did conditionally offer to allow her to transfer in as a sophomore if she maintained a 3.2 grade point average at another public college in Texas.

Instead, Fisher went to Louisiana State University, from which she graduated in 2012, and pursued her lawsuit. Fisher was recruited for the suit by Edward Blum, an opponent of racial preferences who has been remarkably successful in persuading the Supreme Court to hear cases challenging the use of race in education and politics. Blum was behind a major challenge to the landmark Voting Rights Act that resulted in the court eviscerating a key provision of the law and he also led an unsuccessful challenge to states’ widespread practice of counting all their residents, not just those eligible to vote, in drawing legislative districts.

Justices heard Fisher’s case once before, and issued an inconclusive ruling in 2013 that sent her case back to a lower court and set the stage for Monday’s decision.

In 2003, the justices reaffirmed the consideration of race in the quest for diversity on campus. Their decision then set a goal of doing away with such programs in 25 years.

Texas is unique in marrying the top 10 plan to a separate admissions review in which race is one of many factors considered. The university’s current freshman class is 22 percent Hispanic and 4.5 percent African-American. White students make up less than half the school’s freshmen.

Eight states prohibit the use of race in public college admissions: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.