Even after losing their potent ally Antonin Scalia, the once-majority Supreme Court conservatives were still able to block President Obama’s immigration executive orders by means of a tie vote, which left Obama’s November 2014 edicts blocked by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A tie vote leaves the court decision being contested as the last decision standing. In the case of the immigration orders, that meant Judge Andrew Haney’s U.S. District Court legal stay of the measures — later upheld twice by the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans — as  the final say.

At least until 2017.

The upshot is that the next presidential election will doubtlessly decide the issue of executive authority. If the Democrats win and pack the court, expect executive powers to grow quickly. If the Republicans win and fill the court, presidents may have to go back to bargaining with Congress.