The scorecard on the legal fight over President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is two judges in favor and one against.
But these are the early rounds in preliminary bouts. The one that really counts - a showdown at the Supreme Court - is at least a year away.
The health care law suffered its first major legal setback Monday when a federal judge declared that the heart of the sweeping legislation is unconstitutional. The decision handed Republican foes ammunition for their repeal effort next year.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, a Republican appointee in Richmond, Va., marked the first successful court challenge to any portion of the new law, following two earlier rulings in its favor by Democratic-appointed judges. A number of other lawsuits were dismissed early on, without rulings on the substance of the law.
The law's central requirement for nearly all Americans to carry insurance is unconstitutional, well beyond Congress' power to mandate, Hudson ruled. That put him in the same camp as Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli - the Republican who filed the suit - and many of the GOP lawmakers who will take control of the U.S. House in January.