Today, Judge Roger Vinson is expected to become the second federal judge to strike down a portion of the Affordable Care Act (at least fourteen other judges have dismissed claims that the law is unconstitutional). While the right is certain to crow about this decision the minute it is handed down, the truth is that lower courts routinely strike down landmark legislation before that law is eventually upheld — and there is every reason to believe that the Supreme Court will do the same here:
- Minimum Wage: In United States v. Darby, the Supreme Court upheld a federal minimum wage and overruled a prior decision striking down federal child labor laws. This decision reversed a district judge’s opinion declaring the minimum wage unconstitutional.
- Social Security: In Helvering v. Davis, the Supreme Court reversed a court of appeals decision declaring Social Security unconstitutional.
- Whites-Only Lunch Counters: In Katzenbach v. McClung, the Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters — reversing a district court’s decision striking down this law.
- Voting Rights Act: In Katzenbach v. Morgan, the Supreme Court reversed a district court decision striking down a portion of the Voting Rights Act (the Court since stepped back from the reasoning applied in Morgan, but the Voting Rights Act remains good law).
Judge Vinson is going to do what he’s going to do today, but if he does strike down health reform, he will find himself in some pretty unpleasant company.