On Oct. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, a case that threatens to flood the federal court system with about 5,000 largely meritless lawsuits that claim vaccines cause autism. There just isn’t any decent evidence showing that vaccines cause autism. Yet because of the Supremes’ ruling in a different, unrelated case (Wyeth v. Levine), there’s a possibility that the court could plunge the judicial system down a science-free rabbit hole in which non-specialist civil judges will be forced to hear each and every one of these cases even though the law was specifically written to prevent that happening. The case is a Trojan horse for autism activists, but the Supremes may side with them anyway.

It’s complicated, so here’s the simple version:

In the 1980s, all but one manufacturer of the diphtheria–pertussis–tetanus vaccine went out of business after a few autism cases went against the companies, even though a series of large-scale studies show that vaccines — even the ones containing the preservative thimerosal — do not cause autism. With the U.S. vaccine supply in danger, and American children newly threatened by lethal diseases that had been wiped out decades earlier, a new law created a federal vaccine court so that patients claiming vaccine injuries could get quick, no-fault compensation at a rate that would allow drug companies to continue producing vaccines. That law, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, states:

No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings………