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. Andrew Laidlaw

    Boy, we have some world class morons commenting on here... Auto insurance need not be purchase by anyone... just those who except the terms of taking a drivers license. Don't except a drivers license and you don't have to buy auto insurance. With Obamacare you would have been forced to buy into it for no other reason but because obama would have made it illegal not to do so. See the difference?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • tffl

      So if you don't have insurance, you should be willing to not be treated in an emergency room? Seems like that matches your statement...

      January 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. billybear3

    Another example of the Teabaggers and racist wanting this President to fail. Be racist is legal but, helping Americans who can't afford healthcare is illegal.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • ???

      Must be getting pretty low in the barrel if ur scraping this up. Thought u libs knew what u were doing? LOL

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

    Health care. No matter where you press it, it will poke out somewhere else. Every answer seems like the wrong one. I hate our present system with incredibly high premiums and deductables, but I hate the new ideas even worse. Just trying to stay healthy...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Christie

    Eh, this means nothing until it reaches the Supreme Court. We need health care reform in this country, and it must be SO easy for those that have health care to fight so hard to make sure they STRIP away a bill that helps more people buy health insurance.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gina

    When will be people be held accountable for their health and the care they receive. They come to the ER (the most expensive place to be seen) and expect free healthcare. Who pays? I do and I am fed up with this. Doctors need to unite – don' t have health insurance, you don't get health care. Period.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AB

    yes millions of uninsured will and youll pay for them nice shot cons

    January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MW Johnson

    I guess if we took all the money that we spend on illegal aliens and put it toward healthcare....we wouldn't have a problem.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tom


    January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Leo

    C'mon CNN ! Report the WHOLE story and quit trying to minimalize things. The "key" parts you claim are invalid make the WHOLE bill invalid – not just "parts". Ovomit had his cronies write the bill as having all components being non-severable and then signed the bill thinking it would not get chopped since it has so many illegal components. Any freshman law student could see where this would go. He really is so arrogant and dumb at the same time.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chuck Goodman

    President Obama deserves this as he refused to listen to the American public. Now is the time for him to really start listening and to quit force feeding the American public is ill thought agenda. I think I'll use a little extra salt on my baked patato tonight.

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

    If the Supreme court agrees, simply means that you deadbeats who don't/won't buy your own insurance will continue to suck at the public trough. Why don't you buck up and take care of yourselves instead of sticking the rest of with your medical bills?

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

    Unfortunately i have to agree with the GOP on this. Forcing people to buy health insurance is wrong. What Obama did wrong is keeping insurance in the private sector. If this system is to work the entire health care system needs to be fixed, lowering costs across the board so a state run system would be feasible. Remember people, canada isn't the only country with universal health care, many other countries have it and it works very well.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Justice Lives!

    Thank God for that Judge!! I do not need or want health insurance (it stinks in California)! For those of us who take care of their God-given, healthy bodies, this is good news! I guess all the "unhealthy" can stay in the US and keep their health insurance.

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

      Just be good enough to die quietly then when your "god given" body has problems...

      January 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justice Lives!

      tffl – a church mouse would make more noise than me.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eli

    How about redistributing some work ethic instead of money. Then maybe people can pay for there OWN health care. New shoes rims and flashy cars trump the need for health care for so many that dont have it.

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

    Scott, You're absolutely right. Now Obama has done absolutely nothing in his two years. So, Conservatives... shut the hell up. He's done nothing, why do you all hate him so much. Oh, I almost forgot, I know why...

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