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. ba rock

    All good communist must come to the aid of obama and the demorats! They belong in cuba

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

    Lenders require homeowners insurance not the government. If you own your house free-and-clear you have every right to not carry insurance!

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

    I required emergency medical assistance when I nearly cut off my thumb. I did not have Health Insurance. They put my thumb together and sent me on my way. When i got the bill it said 3,000 dollars. I told them I don't have insurance and they said "oh then it is only $900" i paid it and it cost less then the amount i would have spent on insurance.

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

      And we paid the rest

      January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Yeah, and if you had had insurance they would have paid $400 and screwed over the next guy who actually paid for it himself. Health insurance is the problem... not the lack of it. They strip down what they'll pay to almost nothing, so that the hospital charges those without (or car injury patients since there are no negotiated rates with them) astronomical prices to make up the difference. Then when normal people can't pay the $14,000 night in the hospital, they whine about people not paying. I had a $14k night in a hospital, two broken ribs, they sent me home the next day. No surgery, no solution, no cast, nothing. I would have been no better off that if I had just laid there on the ground for 24 hours. $14k... it got paid, but $14k? To this day I don't understand what service they supposedly provided to me that was supposed to be worth $14,000.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Troy

    Activist judges strike again. Just call it a tax and get over it already. Medicare and Medicare is the same thing this is. I am tired of paying for others lack of planning and not having health care. Buy it or die, don't use my premiums to get free health care at hospital emergency rooms.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daniel P Ellsworth

    Everybody blames the greedy insurance companies-last time I was in the hospital-it wasn't the insurance companies charging $8.00 for an advil, $47,000.00 for one nights stay on a "simple knee scope"-just sayin

    January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danigirl65

      Actually – the reason your costs were so high is because of the number of people treated that never pay for their treatment hence higher charges for the rest of us and insurance companies.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Maybe if they didn't charge $48k for a night stay in the hospital, people would pay. Thats ridiculous, as an individual, how does one 'need' $48k worth of work in one night. I want to go to school to be the guy that charges someone so much for the 15mins I talk to them that within 24 hours I make $48k (btw, thats the problem right there... some people are making out like bandits and if you look at the books, it isn't the insurance companies... its the hospitals, doctors, drug manufacturers, medical equipment makers, etc... THEY are the ones screwing America)

      January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. im sick

    i like the " are upset when the law is the law" or w/e BS. just like when dems were upset with bush's policys, the GOP claimed that if you were against the president, you were unamerican. now they say they can be against the pres, and not racist. doesn't make sense. how can you claim to rally behind the OFFICE of president one administration, then claim it is your duty to keep the OFFICE in check? i just don't get it.

    but the point is this, why can't we work together anymore? it's either the leftist idea or the rightist idea. no compromise or anything. THAT is frustrating. take a bit of good here, give a little good there. and bam. actual solutions. that'll never happen though

    January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John MacDaniel, Huntsville AL

    Is this 'judge' a 'publican or just plain stupid?

    We should all become identified as being an automobile, and then we would all have to have mandatory insurance issued or be taken to jail for being in public without insurance, or some such foible!

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

    and marc – you were forced to get home insturance BY THE MORTGAGE LENDER NOT THE GOV'T. Didn't you read the fine print? And guess what – once you pay off your house, you DON'T NEED HOME INSURANCE ANYMORE! Wow, go figure.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Uninsured Joe

    Personal Health Care is almost unaffordable. If any of you had to buy healthcare yourself instead of having an employer buy it for you then you would understand this. How would you penalize someone because they cannot afford it? Fine them money that you already know they don't have? Put them in jail because they cannot afford it? It makes no sense.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Melissa

    We need to start by reforming healthcare, not insurance. Finding a new way to fund the broken system was a mistake.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mark

    why is healthcare even a debated policy... it should be a well funded government agency or at the least a well regulated private industry.

    How has private industry made healthcare access better?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sajor

    I wonder if that will also serve as a precedent to strike down obligatory auto insurance, and the penalties involved.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • ???

      Auto insurance regulated by individual states. The health care law was mandated by the Federal goverment and thus is being challanged by the States (10th Amendment). Need a picture drawn?

      Come on guys this is basic social studies.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. carol

    What is the problem we need insurance and if we can get it cheaper then what is the big deal? People need to get insurance that they can afford and not going to the er and dont pay anyway............................................

    January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bob

    we need more schooling and jobs in this country immediately so those posting on this blog can either go back to school or get a job instead of wasting their time with stupid comments

    January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • carol

      Bob get a life You must be one of the redneck freeloaders

      January 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JJ

    Irrelevant. The health reform bill will stand. Mark my words. 🙂

    January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • carol

      JJ I hope so

      January 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
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