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. George

    What I can't understand is that illegal aliens without health insurance get free medical care just by showing up at the county hospital while Americans who paid taxes all their lives have to get health insurance or be denied the medical care that they need. Someone please explain this to me.

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

      If you 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 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • DwayneL

      Exactly! It isn't our own citizens driving up health care's the millions of illegal aliens and our elected leaders just sit back and let it happen. They need to go!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brickell Princess

    God forbid this "government" ever does anything to positively support and assist the lives of Americans. They would rather send billions of tax payer dollars overseas to support foreign governments than to help Americans at home.

    Those of you that don't support Healthcare Reform have never been sick or have never had a relative sick. Just you wait till your turn comes and you will realize just how poor you are and how the health care system is designed to work against you and make your life a mess. Your turn will come.

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

      Blah, blah, blah. Also, if you don't buy a house in a flood plain you wouldn't have to buy the flood insurance. Yes, it's that easy.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • DMC

      But Princess...why mandate individuals to do something when the real problem is with the insurance companies, their fees and services. If Congress/the Government wants to mandate something - let it be the rates and services of the companies who really make the money and ripping people off by not paying for claims. Believe me if you don;t control it from the top - you are just asking for trouble for the little guy - that's you and me!

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

      Don't confuse Obamas law with Health Care Reform. Its not!! It is a health insurance regulation reform. Very different from actually reforming how health care is provided. There is very little, if any, health care reforms in Obama's law. Ultimately, it causes us to spend more on our insurance while doing little to make the actual care we receive any better. Its a law based on good intentions, but falls very short of solving the true problems in our health care system.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steph3266

      Here here ...... People generally change their perspectives when they have to walk a mile in a new pair of shoes.

      Anyone who thinks it's stupid to mandate it, don't get it but allow the ER's to turn away a few folks and see how well that gets received. My insurance should go down or at least stay stable with that rule. while you don't want to pay .. I'm a little tired of paying for you folks who don't perceive health insurance as a necessity but still end up using it on my dime. Get real

      January 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      I've been sick while not having health insurance. Guess what happened...I payed out of pocket for the care and prescriptions that I needed. And no, I wasn't some "rich" person. I was a college student with little to no dispensable income.
      So stop spreading the lie that the uninsured are causing your insurance rates to increase.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bklynrob

    Ok for all those comparing auto insurance to health care, consider this. If you get cancer, it kills/disables you. Your cancer, broken arm, or what ever does not hurt you neighbor or the guy down the block. When you choose to drive a car and you crash it because you made a mistake or your car malfunctioned, there is a high probability you going to inujure or kill some one else. Your insurance covers the medial expenses and property damage of others when you crash and its your fault. That is why its mandatory in almost all states. Car insurance protects other people from your mistake. I don't care if you drop dead because you could not pay for your healthcare, but you damned sure better be able to pay for my injuries if you crash into me with you car.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • bklynrob

      As for home owners insurance, if I came to you and said "Dude, please lend me $200,000" , would you just give it to me on my word that I would pay it back, or would you insist there be some sort of protection on your money?

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

      Yet you ignore the reality which is an uninsurred person wuld go to the ER, and in fact it would affect you as you would end up having to pay for it through your higher premiums/taxes. Therefore, no health insurrance does in fact affect others.

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

      "Your cancer, broken arm, or what ever does not hurt you neighbor or the guy down the block."

      Sure it does – through loss of economic productivity. Despite what Americans believe about themselves, we are deeply interdependent – and the harm that befalls a fellow citizen cannot be assumed to cause no loss to the rest of us however indirectly.

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

      I've not ignored that fact at all. Quite frankly, I think the law should be this "You are not required to purchase healthcare insurance. If you choose not to and you require health care that you cannot afford, then FU, die." America is all about the right to choose. If you choose to opt out, have a responsible plan to support your choice. If you fail to do so, then your problem, not mine. I know that is not how the current system works but lets spend more energy on passing laws that protect responsible people from not having to subsidize the health care of the irresponsible.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • BurnTHalO

      What do you do when your company does not offer health insurance? "Screw you, you can go die because you work for a small business that can't afford to give you health care?"

      January 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • bklynrob

      The loss of economic productivity due to disability/injury does not dissapear because one does or does not have insurance. Insurance does not prevent injury or sickness. It comes down to choice balanced with responsibility. In a perfect world, If you choose to opt out of socialized healthcare then it should be your problem if you become sick, not the tax/insurance payer.

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

      Again, it comes down to responsible choices. If the government is providing a socialized health care system and you choose to opt out, its your problem. If you choose to participate and live life to excess (eat like crap, obesity caused by poor diet, failure to exercise, drug and alcohol), your problem, not mine.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • BurnTHalO

      But you are stepping around the greater question, which is what if you do not get it offered from your work, thus causing you to have to pay for it yourself? If you have any sort of pre-existing condition, you are probably looking at well over $800 for insurrance each month. And that doesn't include having co-payments or dedcutables or medication. Most people don't have an extra $800 a month for health insurance, and without a company offering to help with those costs, what are you supposed to do? You die because you work for small business?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • bklynrob

      I understand what your saying, that in the present state, not all employers offer health insurance and therfore, it is up to the individual to obtain insurance on their own. Exactly the reason they came up with obama care. My point is: You still have the right to choose if you want obama care or not. If you choose not to go with obama care and you choose not to obtain private insurance, the FU if you get sick.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 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 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      great point

      January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack NYC

      Because so many are now under-insured or have no insurance we, the rest of us, are paying for their health care. All the critics of this health care plan don't understand this. They yell about socialism and they (we) are getting stuck with the bill now from insurance companies. Rates have been going up for years and years and yet eveyone is fine with that. I'm not fine with that. Is this a perfiect bill? Of course not. So, let's tweak it and make it better.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. stike1

    one more reason for me to think that judges up to and including Supreme (hah) court are not the brightest bulb on any chandelier and all are fat poumpous asses who sit in their ivory towers and play their politics so they can get richer.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    I don't see the difference between having to pay for health care and Social Security. We are forced to pay into Social Security and Medicare. However, if we are going to have a health care system that benefits everyone, we should all be made to contribute. Also, if we had a fair health care system set up, we could do away with Medicare and Medicaid and impart the money from these two programs into the main health care program, and this would allow us to save on supporting 3 -4 separate health care systems.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      And how is that mandatory SS and Medicaid working out? I can only imagine what would happen with a health care system set up...

      January 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    None of you are rich and none of you will ever be rich so why is there so much opposition for making life better for the middle class through our only means of power...VOTING!

    The U.S is a two tier class system were 1 group has more voting power.

    The rich (1%)... vote with ballot and vote with money
    Everyone else (99%)... vote with ballot

    guess whose country it is... not any of yours...

    they manipulate you with media, Mcdonalds, and LED TVs and hoopla about freedom, right, individuality... and turn around the screw you with every single law, policy, and regulation...

    Yet, YOU (American middle class citizen) bends over and takes it willingly...

    btw, I am an American Middle class citizen

    January 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • unagi number one

      you have crystallized my thoughts exactly.

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

      You have the same chance to get education and work hard to be in that 1% you call the rich. However, you and many others lack the smarts and skills to get there so be it. Everyone should not be equal!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. db

    It's staggering to me...does anyone actually READ what this is about??? The cost of this plan is far LESS then trips to the ER, which is where most people get there healthcare here in the powerful US of A. READ IT

    January 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Todd

    Congress has the ability to regulate commerce. Congress also has the ability to tax. What Congress tried to do here is DICTATE commerce. Congress does not have the right to tell us how we MUST spend our money. If Congress wants universal health care, then raise taxes to pay for it. I for one will not see Uncle Sams named added to my check book! Thank you for preserving our liberties Judge Vinson!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Neil actually think the people will pay for the health insurance they are forced to buy. They usually don't buy insurance because they can't afford it. So since these people will have to go on welfare or file bankruptcy to pay insurance premiums, I don't see how this helps the economy. It is just a way to raise taxes so people can get something for nothing. Being that our country is in a ridiculous amount of debt this is flat out a bad idea.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ram

    why no one talks about removing anti-trust exception for insurance companies

    January 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Abraham Lincoln

    Fourscore and seven years ago...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John Q.

    I'm curious, why do people complain so much about having to pay for health insurance, but not a single person complains about being required to pay auto insurance? The concept of it is identical. Yes I know, there will be comments pointing out the obvious differences as if it's what any of us even care to read.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • AZVoter

      Again Mr Q – You can decide NOT to drive a car and therefore not have to buy auto insurance. I lived in NYC for 3 years and didn't spend a dime on auto insurance while I lived there. This bill MANDATES every American to buy health insurance. How would you like the government to tell you that you had to buy auto insurance whether you drove or not? Now thats the same thing!

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

      Many people don't own cars.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • DwayneL

      Auto and health insurance are so obviously different a child could tell the difference. You have no argument and are part of the reason for the idiots we have serving in Washington right now. Educate yourself!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Interested

    This whole bill misses the point. In its single purpose to improve access to health care, it does nothing to address cost. In fact, it burdens employers and policyholders with more costs at a time when businesses are struggling. If the bill did more to reduce costs, more people could afford it.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gary in Portsmouth, VA

    I say this whatever the problem is with the health care reform bill just fix it and keep on moving rather than trying to scrap the bill because a black president got it started. It's getting really to look like silly season in politics. There is too much other important stuff to worry about. If I had to pay $1000 a year to have premium health care I'd do it in a minute. I am retired military and to be honest with you I love my govt. health care. Not too expensive and when I want to get see I just go right in and don't have to worry about a big health care bill afterwards. So stop the racism and get this thing done and over with. The next white president will think of something else important to coin as done by the white man.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • DMC

      That is one RIDICULAS statement! It doesn't have to be racial to be stupid! Dont be naive This bill was created by the Dems BEFORE Obama became president–he just became their puppet to get their policies passed. There is so much crap in that bill I am surprised more people are not upset about it! This isnt a racial issue - its the Government trying to mandate issues that are and should be beyond their control!

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