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. Joe citizen abroad

    The government forces people to do things, every day, including buy stuff. Social Security is forced retirement insurance. If you draw pay, you have to buy it. You don't even have a choice of vendors. If you get married, you have to buy a license. Again, no choice of vendors. If you drive, you have to buy insurance (your choice of vendors). If you have a school-age child, you are required to educate him or her (your choice of vendors, but most go with the "public" option). You can home-school, but the point is, you're required to provide for their education somehow. No ifs, ands or buts. If you are on public assistance, you are required to find a job or be looking, or demonstrate why you cannot provide for yourself. So can someone please tell me how it is different when the government requires you to provide for your own healthcare?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Go read the 10th Amendment, it will answer your question.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Your entire argument here is predicated on the "IF" statement. "IF" I drive, I have to buy insurance, "IF" I want to get married, I have to buy a license, "IF" I request unemployment, I must look for work. There is not "IF" in OBAMACARE. You MUST purchase health insurance if you are alive, no choice and that is the entire argument against the plan. Yes, healthcare reform is needed, but choices need to be allowed, not dictates.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Because taxpayers will be footing the bill in the forms of tax allowances for the poor to get that insurance. Why do we continue to have to subsidize the poor? How many more millions and billions of dollars are we expected to just hand over to them? Just as we are forced to subsidize the uninsured motorists when we follow the law and purchase the mandated auto insurance to cover us in case an uninsured idiot hits us... and let see... who are the majority of uninsured in this country? Would that be the 12+ million illegals looking for more handouts... we taxpayers are suckers because we keep electing the same bleeding hearts that force us to pay through the nose to those "less fortunate"

      January 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Well said, completely agree!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • misti

      Everyone seems to miss this basic point... the current law is a FEDERAL mandate that everyone must purchase health care insurance. The ones that everyone else is referencing, auto, home, etc are STATE mandates. This may seem a minor point to many reading this blog but it is at the heart of the basic opposition to this health care law. It is not the FEDERAL Government's place to mandate this, it is up to the STATEs within our union. Check out the tenth amendment.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe citizen abroad

      Whatever happened to everyone doing their part for the good of all Americans? Whatever happened to pulling together to make our country a better place to live? I'll tell you what happened. No one is asked to make any sacrifices for the greater good anymore. And as a result, we've become a nation of selfish, soulless people who hide behind sound bites and ideological arguments while our own neighbors...even our own family members...die from lack of care. The irony is, those who can most afford it are those who are complaining the loudest. Shame on you.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Social security is a tax and the government has the right to levy a tax. Now if Obama turned around and said his
      health care system was a new tax on the American people so everyone could have insurance, how far do you think it would have gotten with the American people. Oh yeah, thats right, the American people have said overwhelmingly that they dont want Obamacare. Was'nt that what elections were for, to quote his lordship himself?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. superg

    Look the Libs want it. I doubt a majority of them have every had to go sit all day and wait to see a doctor. In Korea they have socialized medicine and that's how it works. You don't get a set appointment you just go and wait until it's your turn. I don't know how other socialized medicine countries work, but I would much rather have an appointment. I agree there are some goods things in OBcare, such as preexisting conditions, but for the government to MAKE me get health insurance I don't like. And comparing Health insurance to having Car insurance is asinine. More than likely I'm not going to give someone a dreaded disease and kill them, but I may drive my car into their car and kill them.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      So it is asinine to make the comparison with auto insurance but not asinine to say libs never sit at a doctors office? or to compare a socialist system to this bill?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry Z

      Not sure why you'd even mention socialized medicine, since anyone who really knows what socialized medicine really is would understand that this isn't even close. Socialized medicine is where the gov't owns the hospitals and doctors and nurses are gov't employees. No one has even considered that here, but the Tea Party idiots love to call things by idiotic names so that idiotic voters can understand it better.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I'm not asking you to buy health insurance because I fear you will personally spread disease, and be liable to the rest of us in tort. I'm saying you must have insurance because there has never been a human being who hasn't sought professional help for a medical problem. From caveman times to medicine men to witch doctors to the present, for the million or so years we've been on this earth, we ALL have sought medical help. You will inevitably use the system. And when you do, you must pay your fair share of the costs. Right now, we are still paying for this insurance through taxes. Illegals go to the hospital and run up emergency room tabs that we pay for, because "not everyone" has insurance. If we all have insurance, the costs for care will be more evenly paid for and tax revenues can be better utilized to bring down our national debt. The best medical delivery systems in the world, in terms of both effectiveness and patient satisfaction, are "socialist" systems, namely France, Finland, Sweden and Norway. There are always going to be problems and roadblocks in every system. But we do have evidence as to what works best on an overall basis. Shouldn't we shoot for that?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    OK then. What if, when people go to the emergency room for health care, which they inevitably will do rather than just die, they would be required to sign up/purchase health care insurance ON THE SPOT. Analogous to buying a car or home, they are now accessing the health care system, mandating their insurance purchase for goods/services received. They should then be put on a basic health care plan with the option of changing it later. BUT they should be made to enter the health insurance pool at that time. To encourage pro-action, they could receive a much better insurance rate if they purchase it BEFORE they need it.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ahbjektiv

      Insurance works by spreading the risk and the system would collapse if people only jumped in when they get sick. The system does need to be fixed to allow coverage for people that want insurance, but for those that don't, let them pay out of their own pockets. Hospitals have in the past have allowed for payment plans to spread out the cost. If a patient doesn't pay, hit them with wage garnishment just like the IRS does for unpaid taxes.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Because, Mark, its "insurance," not an installment payment plan. Do we say, ok, you can drive without insurance until you have an accident and then you must sign up? That's ridiculous. You sign up and pay in advance IN CASE you need it. That's the basis on which companies calculate the premiums due ... the risk that you might need it and make a claim. How do you calculate a premium for someone who is signing up at the time they first appear with stage 3 liver cancer? Ok, your premium is $400,000. How realistic is that? The answer is, we pay in advance and spread the risk over many people to keep it affordable for all.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Don

    If you drive you have to have liability insurance because you can harm others and their property. But, no one says you
    have to drive so this is still a choice.

    If you choose to own a housse, you are responsible for insuring the value of your home to the actual owner, the bank. After you own it outright, you are no longer required to have any type of insurance. It's your coice.

    Obamacare required you to be insured because you are alive.

    It would still be my responsibilty to pay for medical bills even if Im not insured or underinsured.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You do have a choice Don. LOL

      January 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. steve jackson

    NO the judge vacated the entire law package NOT just the individual mandate.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CurtisATL

    ACTIVIST judges at it again.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • DwayneL

      How? For following the letter of the law as he's supposed to?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Check

      Activist judge? LOL!! That's a good one! Activist judges don't shoot down legislation by democrats! Get back to school!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christie

      People are foolish to believe that judges aren't activists. They're appointed and don't get that way by being neutral.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jp

    One of the most interesting things about American which has been lost is the fact that the States were strongly Independent. The States were very untrusting of other states. Most States even had official religions…and that joining into a union with other states that they did not trust in order to form a country was something that the residents of these states was not too ‘excited’ about…it was look at as a necessary evil to survive against the rest of the world….

    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. babe

    You are ONLY required to have insurance when it affects ANOTHER PERSON OR SOMETHING YOU OWN WHICH MIGHT AFFECT ANOTHER PERSON!!!!! If you die, because of your stupidity, it only affects YOU!!! Get your head out of the sand!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      You're wrong. Chances are you won't die and the rest of us will be stuck paying higher premiums to cover your emergency care. In this country, people aren't often left to die in the streets. Is that the alternative you seek?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • robbie

      So if someone genetically acquires say MDS, or cancer, or some other health issue NOT related to their lifestyle choices, they're just 'stupid'? How does that work? Please have a child with down syndrome so we can call your kid stupid for having it, and you stupid for having a kid that is stupid. Cruel? Yes. Do I mean it? No. But you seem to...

      January 31, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Hey babe,

      Not exactly. A person with an untreated infectious disease is putting everyone they come into contact with at risk. That's why children must be vaccinated if they want to attend public school. If they remain untreated because they have no insurance, then they should be required to purchase it and be treated. More practically, waiting until near death to go to the emergency room costs the rest of us insurance purchasers a ton of cash because emergency room visits and extraordinary care really drives up health care costs and subsequently our premiums. Containing Emergency room visits and extraordinary care by covering checkups, preventative care and routine annual exams will greatly cut health care costs and insurance premiums for everyone.. That's what they Healthcare reform act does. I do not understand why the administration doesn't point this out.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe S

    My opinion: If you want health insurance, go get it youself. Either buy it with your own money, or get a job that provides it. If you don't want it, save your money and don't get it. (At least this is the way it should be). If you can't afford it, well why is that? If health insurance is so important, then it should be one of your top priorities, like food and shelter. It should be a higher priority than a cell phone or a car or cable TV. Take care of your own health (and your family's health) before you start spending money on frivolities like those.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • DMC

      Well said Joe! Lets take a poll to see how many people w/o health insurance have a cell phone and cable? Insurance is one of those things people dont think about until the need it. I for one have always made health insurance a primary consideration when taking a job. Maybe its the getting a JOB part that throws people...

      January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Why Me?

      You just made the single best point of the whole argument against obamacare.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alicia

      Love your comment!!!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • DwayneL

      Dead on Joe!!! It drives me insane to see someone using food stamps at grocery store while talking on their cell phone!!! If you can't afford health insurance because you be spending on yo cell phone and flat screen then that's just too bad!

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

      I spent five years uninsured after college. I was working the entire time, often at more than one job. However, none of these jobs provided health insurance, and when I attempted to buy my own I was refused because of pre-existing conditions. There was absolutely nothing I could do. I still have a $3,000.00 bill from one hour in the ER.
      A year later I got a finally full-time job with benefits, just in time to find out I have a brain tumor. Luckily, I now have access to some of the top surgeons in the world, but had I not gotten this job I might not be alive. Healthcare costs have become insane. Each one of my blood tests costs over $10,000.00 because they have to test for obscure hormones. It all has to do with agreements between the hospitals and the insurance carriers. The system is beyond corrupt.

      The healthcare bill may not be perfect, but at least it's a start.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      You have a trivial understanding of the situation. The majority of the uninsured both want and need coverage, but they either can't afford it or are turned away due to preexisting conditions. It is not an issue of people squandering their money on frivolous items in lieu of taking care of themselves. If you have never wanted for health insurance, consider yourself lucky. The government should have simply instated a public option, which would have rendered this entire argument irrelevant.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • robbie

      1. Not sure if you are aware, but Internet access is crucial in today's society, rich or poor.
      2. Tell the mother working 2 jobs her cell phone is 'frivolous' because she needs it to stay in touch with her children.
      3. Why isn't said mother buying insurance? Oh that's right, both her employers only give her 20 hours a week, and they only offer it to fulltime employees, of which they don't have many (to save overhead).
      4. I'm really sick of this idiotic assumption that people who can't afford health insurance have no jobs and are deadbeats. these arguments are clearly coming from people whose daddy bought their first ferrari for them. Every worked on minimum wage? no? Try it out and see what it's like.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lea

      Seriously DwayneL? If they have food stamps YOU are paying for their health care already. Assuming you pay taxes of course...

      January 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gregg

      It is remarkable, when you read the anti-health care posts, how much hate and anger there is. The poor are this and that, they spend their money on flat screen tv's and cell phones. Those who are for health care want to rip apart the country. They don't trust the government, and don't seem to trust (or respect) other citizens. "Protect my rights, stay away from my money" This is what we want for our kids? Greed and selfishness? If you prefer a smaller government, okay, say that. But all the anger? There's something more to your beliefs than just what kind of government you want.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RH

    It really saddens me that people have to turn the health and well being of their fellow human beings into a political issue. Yes, maybe the health care reform act has some flaws and isn't perfect. That can be said about any law that is passed in this country. How can people not agree that something needs to be done to fix this terribly broken system? It blows my mind that people are actually so heartless to argue that not everyone should have access to health care in this day and age. The bottom line is that EVERY single American is being squeezed by the health insurance companies who are only looking to improve their bottom lines. Both doctors and patients are having their hands tied by an insurance industry that makes perverse amounts of profits each year. Wake up people and stop regurgitating the buzz words and extremist ideas that you are force fed by the media and politicians who are in the pockets of the insurance lobbyists. America used to be about doing what is best for everyone. It's sad that people have let selfishness and greed take us so far away from those long forgotten ideals.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Before you judge others, did you stop by the hospital today and volunteer to pay someone else's medical bill?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      America has only been about doing what's "best for everyone" for the last 60+ years, and that's what is bankrupting us. Prior to that it was more about allowing people an opportunity to do the best they could for themselves.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • TRouble

      Keep your hands out of my pockets RH!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      If you don't like being squeezed by an insurance company, don't by the insurance! Its as simple as that. Paying for actual health care would be cheaper than buying health insurance. Also, having insurance is not necessarily having access to health care either. Even the government run health care systems, VA, medicaid, medicare, Indian Health Services, denies and ration access to health care.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Amen, RH! The dialogue in the U.S. has become one of extreme greed and adamant refusal to contribute to the greater good. This is what happens when the free market mentality is allowed to run rampant.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kevin

    If we really want the GOP "final solution," we'll need to allow ERs to refuse treatment to anyone who doesn't either self-pay or have health insurance. The uninsured aren't just going to disappear (that is, DIE) unless we do that.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    Good!!! The fact of the matter is that to make it mandatory for everyone to pay for health insurance or be fined is illogical in the first place. Why make a mandate for Americans to buy something that they cant afford, and then fine them for not being able to afford it, and then make it to where they can't afford the fine, so then they will be punished and sent to jail, and then the tax payers will ultimately have to pay for their health care while the neglectful taxpayers are in jail???? LOL yeah that's just incredibly dumb!!! If the government really wants to have health care for all, they need to make it a universal tax so that everyone pays at the tax rate in which they can afford and the rich will just have to make up for the rest!!! I'm guessing though the rich will have none of that craziness LOL. The famous line from the rich is I worked hard to get where I am, so why should I have to be punished for being rich. Maybe some of the rich need to remember where they came from and realize the same opportunities they had no longer applies to all of us today... A lot of times it's because of the rich that a lot of opportunities are no longer in existence. They gain power from being rich and forget how to give back to the rest of society who helped them succeed in the first place. That is why there is such a vast difference in society when it comes to the rich vs. the poor!!! I can sit behind a desk and act like I'm making tough decisions too and get paid millions for doing nothing but being a monarch over the real working class!!!! We are all slaves to the system. What can you do though?????

    January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • smarterthan you

      And I thought I was confused!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • dan

      very well said.......AMEN

      January 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • kellycanuck


      Good!!! The fact of the matter is that to make it mandatory for everyone to pay for health insurance or be fined is illogical in the first place. Why make a mandate for Americans to buy something that they cant afford, and then fine them for not being able to afford it, and then make it to where they can't afford the fine, so then they will be punished and sent to jail, and then the tax payers will ultimately have to pay for their health care while the neglectful taxpayers are in jail???? LOL yeah that's just incredibly dumb!!!

      Whats incredibly dumb, is the fact that I'm Canadian and know that it states in the health care bill that no one that refuses to buy insurance will be faced with criminal prosecution nor will the gov't come after you. Sad I know more about the health care bill than you do. But let me watch fox? And believe everything they say. Everyone has the right to health care and all the Americans on here that think health care is socialized, are either brainwashed or just plain dumb. We have health care and its true that we dont go bankrupt and lose our houses over a hospital bill, because we dont get one. However we pay high taxes for that right, and so do you. You pay high taxes for your health care too, the only difference is we get something for our tax dollars.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      OK Kelly from Canada, so you actually believe the government won't try to collect or punish those who neglect to pay a fine... Well Kelly from Canada guess what this America we are talking about. Do you really think they will be oh well Tom didn't pay this year hope he does next year???? Come to America and be delinquent on your taxes and watch how fast the IRS will freeze your bank accounts and seize any property that you own!!! You're just lucky I find Canadian women physically attractive, because if I liked intelligent chicks I'd have to mark you off my list LOL!!! I bet you'd be pretty easy to score with because you're so naive...... I'm sorry for being mean but you started it LOL!!!

      January 31, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Matty B

    Off to Atlanta and the Eleventh Circuit this goes....

    January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jackson

    Kim just disproved intellegent design

    January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • MikeV

      "intellegent", how ironic.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ronald Raygun

    this is nothing but republicans doing the bidding of the big corporations that have bought them out. capitalism is nothing more than modern legal slavery. capital makes the world go round, and im not talking about washington. conservatives are scared of losing their money train (sick and unhealthy americans). who owns tobacco companies, alcohol companies, gun companies? all these things create a dangerous concoction. aww you cant afford health insurance cause its too expensive....

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