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. Sam

    Do all the folks in this health care thread vote?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christie

      I do!! As soon as I could vote, I did!!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Maerzie

    Right! The ONLY people who want the new health care law struck down are the leeches who come into the emergency department every week with the sniffles or come in to have their ruptured appendix operation FREE because they were too cheap to buy health insurance. That way other people's money pays for them whle they still have enough to buy all their cigarettes and beer with the money they got from selling their food stamps (ALSO that WE paid for!) WAY TO GO!!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • DemocratinNY

      That is not true. How hateful can you be, and does it make you feel good? Do you get healthcare and who pays for it if you do?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kimo aloha

    Why, when something F'ed up arises in the news, is it INEVITABLY tied back to Florida? Someone should just wipe that F'in state off the map. and all it's Bush-related cronies with it. LAME!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. larrywi

    You people that are bringing up home owners, and car insurance are missing the point. You don't have to own a home or a car, the government doesn't force you buy either! Now do you get the picture!!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. EmptySkull

    Mandatory health insurance should be waived for those who give up their rights to ER and medical care when they have no money or insurance policy.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christie

      Sure but any doctor or nurse with a soul, would never be able to deny someone that is truly ill proper care.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. YadaYada1

    No, we don't have to force people to participate in the health insurance program. They can opt out and when they get sick and can't get medical help they just have to suck it up and die. Funny thing is, the people who are clamoring most to kill health insurance either have government health insurance or are wealthy, or both.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Guest

    To those that don't believe in an insurance mandate and prefer to be "free" and remain uninsured. What do you plan to do if you have a heart attack or get hit by an uninsured driver? Refuse care? Or would you seek care in an ER (most uninsured opt for the latter). Let's say you seek care in an ER and the bill for the visit and follow-up procedures and care reaches $400-500k (not unrealistic). Do you plan to pay for that in cash? Or will you expect the tax payers and insured patients to subsidize your care? I agree one shouldn't be forced to pay a for profit insurance company for anything and that's why I believed in a public option or non for profit insurance, but the opposition wouldn't hear it, they voted the public option down in favor of for profit insurers.

    I love people that want everything but don't think they should have to pay for it.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bklynrob

    I'm not a fan of having to pay for someone else's health bills so I'm not totally against mandating some sort of social health care system. But, dont BS me Mr. President. If we are not going to increase taxes, then tell me how we are going to pay for this thing. That's all I ask. Give me an honest answer about how we will fund it. You say that almost every American is going to have access to health care that they will pay nothing or almost nothing for. HOW?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. barbara

    I agree it is not nice to force medical insurance on us all. However, it is not nice for me to have to pay for those of you too irresponsible to have health insurance when you arrive at our hospital emergency rooms. Remove the law requiring emergency rooms to care for those of you who think you should not have to have the insurance. I do not think I should have to pay for your health needs with my tax dollars. Lets have it one way or the other. Health insurance with care or no health insurance – no care.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick V

    Listen to the right wing crow.

    Most of you are hypocrits. You'll gladly shell out trillions for a war based on a lie, but give people healthcare – THAT'S UNAMERICAN! You gladly let corporations pay not taxes, yet put in place a social program and THAT'S SOCIALISM.

    You hide your racism and your hatred for the poor behind phrases like "fighting socialism" and "restoring freedom". Most of you wouldn't know a socialist if one bit you in the a$$, and think freedom is the freedom of other people to live in poverty as long as "you've got yours".

    So enjoy your victory. When they finally ship your job overseas or take away your health care, or take your home, and corporations profits continue to go through the roof, it won't be Obama's fault. AFTER ALL THE REPUBLICANS CONTROLLED CONGRESS FROM 1994 to 2006 AND WITH THE EXCEPTION OF CLINTON FROM 1980 TO 2008. But why bother with facts?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      And the democrats controlled both houses of congress for over 40 years straight before the republicans got it... so what was your point?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jessica

    Great, Now the people getting charity care because they refuse to get insurance wont have to pay anything for the free care they continue to get. Who pays for the charity care you ask? Why the tax payers do. Now we will have to keep paying for the bums when we could have at least gotten some money out of them. Thanks republicans, didn't think about that part did you...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nukegm1

    obama = epic failure in all respects.

    will go down as first president to lose the middle east... as carter lost iran.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rob

    It kills me that people protest about the Government forcing us to purchase health care. This something that going to make us better. If you actually sit down you will find better things to protest. Like in the States CA we pay registration our cars every year, ( even if we never sale them) we our forces to purchase car insurance ( I should choose if I want that) but I can't.... Both of these are minor, but you never hear anyone protesting them... But Health care something that will help us all.. we fight to over turn it... give me a break

    January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JV surprise. You can't force a person to pay for health insurane, yet hospitals are forced to help someone if they don't have health insurance or can pay....seems like there is a disconnect here. Forcing everyone to have some kind fo health insurance seems to just close the loop to me...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scott

    If you reallly want to get healthcare taken care of the best way you do is A. Outlaw malpractice lawsuits (just better enforcement of doctor liscensing) B. Outlaw health insurance. If doctors, hospitals, drug manufacturers had to charge a reasonable price or people would go some where else (or without); you'd see costs miraculously plummit. It only costs so much because A. they're getting sued left and right and the malpractice insurance costs a fortune and B. cause they didn't get into healthcare to help people (like people used to), they got into it to get rich. Those rich wannabes will go do something else or learn to live like the rest of us humans.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
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