Toobin: Fight over health care law will end up at Supreme Court
January 31st, 2011
03:01 PM ET

Toobin: Fight over health care law will end up at Supreme Court

[Updated at 10:28 p.m.] The fight over the health care reform law ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Monday will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court, said CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin.

"This Supreme Court is very evenly divided between liberals and conservatives. Anthony Kennedy tends to be the swing vote. I would not be at all surprised that he would be the swing vote in this case as well," Toobin said.

"When you consider that this is the signature achievement of the Obama administration, and that it is hanging by a legal thread right now, it's a cause of great concern to supporters of the law."

Because the Florida judge ruled that the individual mandate, the part of the law that says everyone has to buy health insurance, is unconstitutional, “he says the whole law has to go out the window,” Toobin said.

Toobin said it is important to note that several federal judges have found the law constitutional.

"This is why we have a United States Supreme Court, to settle when judges disagree with each other," Toobin said.

The nine justices "have the last word," Toobin said. "Nobody can tell them what to do or when to do it."

[Updated at 5:37 p.m.] The U.S. Department of Justice says it plans to appeal the ruling of a federal judge in Florida, who earlier today struck down as unconstitutional key parts of the sweeping health care reform bill championed by President Obama.

[Updated at 3:47 p.m.] A federal judge in Florida has ruled unconstitutional the sweeping health care reform law championed by President Barack Obama, setting up what is likely to be a contentious Supreme Court challenge in coming months over the legislation.

Monday's ruling came in the most closely watched of the two dozen challenges to the law. Florida along with 25 states had filed a lawsuit last spring, seeking to dismiss a law critics had labeled "Obamacare."

Judge Roger Vinson, in a 78-page ruling, dismissed the key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - the so-called "individual mandate" requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face
stiff penalties.

"I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and
Inequities in our health care system," Vinson wrote.

"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time
when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled 'The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.' "


Filed under: Health • Health care reform • Politics • Supreme Court
soundoff (1,747 Responses)
  1. Evan

    For those interested, here are the Fed. Tax Rates for Canada...for 2011. Province Rates add to the tax base(also listed below) and remember Canada has a much smaller military.

    * 15% on the first $41,544 of taxable income, +
    * 22% on the next $41,544 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income between $41,544 and $83,088), +
    * 26% on the next $45,712 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income between $83,088 and $128,800), +
    * 29% of taxable income over $128,800.

    Provinces tax rates:
    Newfoundland and Labrador 7.7% on the first $31,904 of taxable income, +
    12.5% on the next $31,903, +
    13.3% on the amount over $63,807
    Prince Edward Island 9.8% on the first $31,984 of taxable income, +
    13.8% on the next $31,985, +
    16.7% on the amount over $63,969
    Nova Scotia 8.79% on the first $29,590 of taxable income, +
    14.95% on the next $29,590, +
    16.67% on the next $33,820 +
    17.5% on the next $57,000
    21% on the amount over $150,000
    New Brunswick 9.1% on the first $37,149 of taxable income, +
    12.1% on the next $36,422, +
    12.4% on the next $46,496, +
    12.7% on the amount over $120,796
    Quebec See Income tax rates (Revenu Québec Web site).
    Ontario 5.05% on the first $37,774 of taxable income, +
    9.15% on the next $37,776, +
    11.16% on the amount over $75,550
    Manitoba 10.8% on the first $31,000 of taxable income, +
    12.75% on the next $36,000, +
    17.4% on the amount over $67,000
    Saskatchewan 11% on the first $40,919 of taxable income, +
    13% on the next $75,992, +
    15% on the amount over $116,911
    Alberta 10% of taxable income
    British Columbia 5.06% on the first $36,146 of taxable income, +
    7.7% on the next $36,147, +
    10.5% on the next $10,708, +
    12.29% on the next $17,786, +
    14.7% on the amount over $100,787
    Yukon 7.04% on the first $41,544 of taxable income, +
    9.68% on the next $41,544, +
    11.44% on the next $45,712, +
    12.76% on the amount over $128,800
    Northwest Territories 5.9% on the first $37,626 of taxable income, +
    8.6% on the next $37,627, +
    12.2% on the next $47,092, +
    14.05% on the amount over $122,345
    Nunavut 4% on the first $39,612 of taxable income, +
    7% on the next $39,612, +
    9% on the next $49,576, +
    11.5% on the amount over $128,800

    February 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Smith

    When people with no insurance get sick, they fall back on government services, which everyone pays for. If they haven't for whatever reason managed to take care of their health up to that point, their care is all the more expensive. Hospitals typically discharge patients at the earliest possible moment, therefore they're also likely to cycle back through the system again and again.

    It's generally true concerning medical care, that the cheapest care in the long run is the best possible care at the earliest possible time. Obama's healthcare initiative works from this principle, and is thus firmly based in common sense.

    No one complains that car insurance is mandatory, and no one is protesting that you can't get a mortgage without having fire insurance. Why is a universal responsibility to have health insurance different ? These are all things that concern the common good.

    In the meantime, no one is prevented from taking steps to stay healthy, and not use the insurance – so where is the abridgment of human rights, at any level ?


    In the meantime, no one is prevented from staying healthy and never using their insuranc.

    February 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ep canuk

    The US is already rabidly socialist. Military, police, fire protection, public schools, lgal system, etc etc – all government mandated not for profit organizations. And lets get rid of manditory car insurance for drivers. If we don't want to buy car insurance, the government should not have the power to mandate that we buy it to be able to drive our cars on roads our taxes pay for. If we have an accident then let the injured party sue for damages. If a rich guy puts you in a wheelchair, you might get lucky and get millions. If a poor driver cripples you then .... well maybe you can glue a cushion on a skateboard and use your hands to scoot around – like in the poor countries. But, it's the American way and look at it this way – you at least had the opportunity to be hit by a rich guy.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Clifford

    I beg to differ with those who insist that socialized medicine is the greatest thing since slice bread. Every socialized country in the world that has adopted socialized madicine is broke. My neighbor lives in Canada half the year and the United States the other half. He would be happy to explane to everyone how bad the medical system in Canada really is. His wife broke her leg last year and had to make eight trips, on eight different days, before the bone was set. Her husband had a heart attack and had to be flown several hunderd miles to a hospital that could treat heart attack victims. He runs his own business and pays over 65% of his income to taxes/health care. Many good doctors move out of Canada because of the h

    February 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ep canuk

    As a buffoon equating car insurance to health insurance, it seems the Dems messed up a bit. The first sentence in the Health Care Reform bill should have stated that health care is a priviledge and not a right, and as such, all the following provisions and mandates will apply. Hence the willful act of living is like the willful act of driving. If you choose to drive, you must be insured. If you choose to live, you must be insured. Needing medical care would be equivalent to having an accident. Like the driver having an accident, the person needing medical care and the general public is financially protected by their policy. In both cases, insurance is government mandated with no opt out provisions and penalties for the uninsured.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elena

      roll it over to an account at your bank. psuchare CD's in various short terms. As they reach term you liquidate only what you need and repurchase more CD's if you don't need the $$.

      July 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The Patient Factor

    In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the prohibition of private insurance for publicly funded health services in the province of Quebec violated both the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The decision in Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General) only applies to the province of Quebec because the appeal made to the Court was based on its provincial Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

    Legal proceedings regarding this same issue are currently moving through the provincial courts in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

    To learn more about Canadian health care visit

    February 1, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tim

    Contrary to the belief of many here, the "car insurance" analogy is actually an argument AGAINST the health care mandate. There is no FEDERAL regulation that requires you to have car insurance. Individual STATES set there own regulations. Why aren't you liberals up in arms over this!? Surely this should be mandated by the FED, no? I'm surprised all the liberals aren't proposing we do away with states altogether. I mean why even have them...... sigh

    February 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cathy McMc

    Is there anything being done about the high prices of health insurance? We are on pretty much a fixed income–my husband is on Medicare but I am not. Letter today from BSCS increased my premium $100 per month to $732 per month. WTH!! There is no way our income can increase like this. I hear a lot about health insurance on the news but none of it addresses the fact that the average person cannot afford to keep paying these outrages premium. We have a $2,000 deductible on my plan and now I need to check what a higher deductible will cost us.

    February 7, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sean

    if you do not have a brokerage firm get one (i use Edward Jones) roll over evteyrhing to the account than figure out how much you want each month 2 years worth in there money market == invest 2nd thru 5th each into ladder cds with dividends going into the money market to have for a rainy day fund put the rest in to good corp bonds and mutual funds== i did this at 59.5 and never looked back i am now 67 i get over 13K a year out and my fund has been growing each year!!!

    July 11, 2012 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
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