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.' "

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

    Keep the referees in washington dc in their appropriate role. When they try to be the boss of an industry their gaping absence of skill becomes obvious. There are some fairly funny parts of the law... For example the Accountable Care Organizations are suppose to encourage savings by having doctors and hospital create new relationships, share payments, etc... Problem is most of those encouraged relationships would be illegal under current Federal Stark and Anti-kickback law and many State Medical Practice Law... "Shouldn't the refrees look through their own rule book before they try to build something with rules...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Erik in Oklahoma

    People who do not buy auto insurance or home insurance get no help when something happens. I say let the same thing happen to people who don't want to buy into the new health plan. Make it a choice. Just realize that the hospitals should also be given the "choice" NOT to help those who can't afford it. Living is not free. Neither is staying alive.

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

    There are twenty five or so such cases in lower courts. The score is now two to two..Individually they don't mean squat. BTE Medicare is a mandated health care insurance.

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

    Everyone has health therefore everyone shoule get healthcare that is not tied to your ability to pay. However, everyone should pay through a consumption/sales tax. This should be on everything we consume – from sugar to race cars. The only way to avoid paying the tax is to save your money. That is the fairest system of all. If you are a retired person living on social security you should pay a sales tax on your box of wheaties for healthcare. If you are Donald Trump then you should pay a sales tax when you buy an expensive home for healthcare. Everyone gets treated and everyone pays. Take the cost of healthcare off the back of the small business owner.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mine and not Yours

    You don't have to have a car in our society to survive, so you don't have to buy car insurance. HAVING A CAR IS A LUXURY. People who ride the city bus system here in San Antonio do not have to purchase car insurance to ride the bus, so the analogy of people being forced to buy car insurance is bogus. I work at McDonald's and I am happy with the health care that I get from the plan that I have, which the owner of the store pays over 50 percent of the cost. People who want Obamacare just want to get something for free, and nothing in this life is free.

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

      In 99% of places in the US, car is mandatory. Public transportation is junk and you will never find a decent job close by your residence.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. working mother of two

    "People who refuse to buy health care insurance are irresponsible and inconsiderate and drive up health care costs for those of us who do purchase health care insurance."
    Really?!? I would love to have health insurance but can't afford it. Don't assume that those of us who don't have it are refusing to buy it.

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

    You actually do not have to have homeowners insurance. If you borrow money to buy a home, the lender will require the insurance, but not the government. Once you own the home, nobody will make you buy the insurance. Of course, if you are a home owner, it is stupid not to have the insurance for multiple reasons.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not amazed, but not happy

      Who do you think the lender is on most home loans? Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac!! Government run outfits.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ablaze

    I hope your sister, mother, firend doesn't lose her job and get breast cancer. She'll be on the streets because we know your stingy a $ $ won't help her out.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Not amazed, but not happy

    This is not surprising. In this case though, I have had enough of people getting medical services without insurance – leaving the rest of us, paying for insurance for our families – getting coverage "free." It's about time to say "No insurance, no care!"

    Also, tell judges that NO ONE DESERVES A SETTLEMENT FOR MORE THAN 10 TIMES WHAT ANY "NORMAL" PERSON WILL EARN IN A LIFETIME!!! Malpractice insurance and the costs for lawsuits has added inordinate amounts to the costs for insurance coverage.

    Yes, that's cold and heartless, but it's a cold and heartless world out there!

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

    How about forcing lawmakers and judges to buy their own health insurance until they figure this whole thing out?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MW Johnson

    This just stinks! Nothing like moving backwards! Sorry...but I think it's a right!

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

    This is the fruit of Bush v. Gore.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Danigirl65

    I've got the solution – emergency rooms no longer have to treat those without health insurance. Bet THAT will make people feel differently about a mandate. I also wish these dittoheads would start calling the LAW by its name. Referencing "Obamacare" in your ruling only dictates that it was a partisan decision – go figure.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. me

    There's a logic problem here. You folks who say you don't drive so you don't need auto insurance need to agree that should you get sick or injured you won't ask for medical help.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gary Davis

    any judge or others wanting to dismantel this health care program is a narsasitic fool supporting the insurance company CEO'S so ( let'er go) . maybe John Boehner can cry for them . this health cvare issue is just the begining of CHANGE .tha's why we elected Mr. Obama . for change . so wake up America its time to repeal the republicans

    January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
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