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. Jeremy

    Just an answer to all you "Auto Insurance example" people. You drive on State/Federal roads, they own the roads thus having they right to regulate them. Most hospitals/Doctors are not government owned/employed.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ivory Johnson

    This is great news! I want the government to keep its hands off my health care, at least until I turn 65, and then I want the government to subsidize my health coverage with taxes paid by younger workers who won't get the same benefits.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. john

    The huge expansion of medicaid that the states are responsible for paying should also be struck down. This bill was not about decreasing costs as it was billed, it expanded coverage. Congress should take this up again, keep the good provisions and get rid of the rest. Also take up malpractice reform and the ability to purchase healthcare across state lines.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Maerzie

    Oh no, Jason! Nobody here goes without health care. They just get it free right now while all us suckers get THEIR bills added to our insurance premiums or our insurance benefits from our jobs so we get paid less!

    That's why the cheapskates who get their free care, and the health care corporations, who are lavishing in their outrageous rip-off profits and exclusive "rules", are the ONLY ONES who want it struck down. They LIKE it that all that money can still be sucked out of the honorable people who pay for everyone's care besides their own.

    The only ones who DON'T get health care here now are the ones who have "pre-existing conditions" (which is getting to be almost ALL of us) because THEN the health care corporations would have to pay out some of their billions of dollars of profits. It's actually quite a nice set-up for ALL the health care corporations and their shareholders. WHY do you think the Republican party of the wealthy (and the gullible, wannabe wealthy) has made a deal with the health care/insurance companies to get RID of our new plan that is more fair to all??

    January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Not everyone who goes to the emergency room costs the tax payers money. I would bet that the majority of people who do go to the emergency room end up getting billed and working out some payment plan with the hospital. Also, just because you have insurance doesn't mean you won't use the emergency room. When I lived in Canada and had access to their "free" health care system, I always used the emergency room. There were no primary care doctors, so I had to use the emergency room.
      Next time you declare that the uninsured are costing us so much through their numerous emergency room visits, provide some actual numbers on number of visits, number of un-paid bills and so forth. Otherwise your just spouting off the same old Obama lies...

      January 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dan varas

    Oh yeah, the government has never made me spend money I didn't want to

    January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jack NYC

    Well, if you don't use the health care system and never plan on using the health care system then you shouldn't have to by health insurance. On the other hand, if you plan on going to a hospital some time in your life you should be mandated to have health insurance. It's analogous to driving. If you plan on driving you have to have insurance. If you don't others will have to pay. Personally, I don't want to have to pay for others, which is what happens now because so many are under-insured or not insured.. They should pay for themselves and be mandated to do so.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brandon

    I can't wait to see all the conservatives complain about judges legislating from the court.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JB


    January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • unagi number one

      nno no no no has not been repealed.
      and it wo wo wo wo won't be.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      I wouldn't start celebrating yet numbnuts... the litigation has only begun...

      January 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Peter Kooperman

    Oh get real people. We are required to have auto insurance. We are required to wear seat belts. All this BS about limiting our freedoms is propaganda. We need to keep the health insurance bill, and Congress needs to get on with balancing the budget and creating jobs.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Scott E

    It is comical to read here how the right -wing media has swayed the uneducated republicans. Can't you fanatics figure out that we are paying for the health care of everyone now through higher medical costs and insurance rates? I suppose that now if you do not have health care and you get terminally sick, you are supposed to lie in the street and die because you cannot get treatment? This all goes to the bigger issue, the haves and the have not's. The difference is, her the haves, the super-rich and business conglomerates have the lowely tea-bagger and right wingers battling their cause, and the sad part is, they are too stupid to even know it!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • lefty avenger

      You are totally right Scott E. The fact of the matter is Tea Party working people support their corporate aristocratic royalty. In the old days the serf field hands used to bow and worship the royalty as they went by in their carriages. Now the Right wing Tea party people bow to corporate oil barons and hmo's ceo's. The Aristocratic Oligarchy is whom they pledge fealty to. Just like Church they worship these financially well off beings.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • unagi number one

      lefty avenger and scott E , you have both crystallized my thoughts exactly.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. karlj324

    why don't we just stop treating people without health insurance. That would save us a ton of money and after all isn't that what it's all about. Just pray that you are never in that situation.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ryan

    LOL Owned Democrats. I cannot wait for the Supreme Court to get this case. Is there anybody in the U.S. who really think its legal to force citizens to buy a product that they might not want or need? I mean, what country do you think this is? #FAIL

    January 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. I say 'poor Obama'

    When Obama's 4 year term is up, everyone will go on about how he didn't get anything done, and hasn't fixed anything, resulting in him not being re-elected, yes? Well: A) you can't fix what G.W. broke. It's just not possible, and I give every last bit of praise to Obama for even taking the rediculously impossible and morally avoidable task on. After what G.W. did we're lucky anybody even BOTHERED to run for President. And: B) You can thank the Republicans for soiling everything they stick their dirty little fingers into, inlcuding Obama's health care bill. There is not one republican out there that wants Americans to have ANYTHING this country can provide for them. They want all of us to suffer, while they reap awards. Rich, slimy Republicans. Aaahhh... I feel better now.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you!!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Patrick Lewis

    We should just call it a tax and be done with it. I think one of the reasons it's NOT a tax is to catch the illegal immigrant population. In any event, It's what the supreme court thinks about this that is going to be important. And striking down this part doesn't get rid of healthcare, it just makes it hugely expensive. Way to go neocons!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Check

      Calling it a tax just might be the answer...all the more reason to have a flat tax without credits and loopholes. That way 100% of the taxpayers will pay taxes, not the current 51%.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brian in KS

    I'm all for everyone having health insurance and removing the ability to deny for pre-existing conditions; what I am not for is mandating coverage to the consumer without providing said coverage. I do not favor national health insurance, but I do favor the federal government offering a lower cost alternative to those that qualify. The bottom line is that we simply cannot allow the federal government to dictate commerce to American citizens; what is next, requiring that we all buy specific rations of dairy products because they are shown to be good for health? Requiring that we all buy rations of gasoline to support the oil companies that contribute heavily to employment and the economy? I don't dislike Barack Obama, but these politics that are driving commerce to be state-owned and state-mandated must stop. NOW. Else 80 years from now our children and grandchildren will be standing in line for bread and water, and YOU ALL KNOW IT.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
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