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. Sam

    Cool. I can't wait to drop my mandatory car insurance too. If I can't be forced to buy health insurance then I can't be forced to carry car insurance either. I'm going to save me some money. Who cares if I cause an accident and hurt or kill someone else ? All the rest of you suckers who have insurance will just have to pay for it similarl to the way we all pay for the people without health insurance now.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Concerned

    Why should anyone be forced to spend 5-10K a year, for 30 to 40 years to pay for insurance and never use it. Just die with a heart attack. That's liberals for you, want someone else to pay for their lazy butts to sit on the couch all day and not work, and go to the doctor for free.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You don't think there are Republicans that sit on their ass, don't work, and game the system for free healthcare at the local ER? What kind of idiot are you?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    If this is the way its gotta go down than so be it. I would like to have one of our fine Congressmen propose a bill to cancel their own federally funded health issurance. Let them go out and buy their insurance the way they would like us to. Lead by example. If they would I suspect this would be a non-issue. Its a shame the democrats couldn't have crafted a better bill, perhaps with the single payer option as was origanlly intended and not this bill that was written to have been a compromise that the republicans now feel as though they can whitlle it away into iimpotentance. It's a shame America can't do the big things anymore. We have forgotten what this country was and is supposed to be. The dream of a millenium.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael K.

    Once again the GOP aka "The party of Hell NO" and the seat on their butts party is trying to take away a good program. They don't have a better idea. They want the Insurance companies to run us into the poor house.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Reagan Salosnury

    Americans never need a doctor. What's the big deal?

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

    First – Why wouldn't health insurance companies want this health care reform to pass? Sure, they can't turn anyone down for pre-existing, they can't terminate your coverage, and there isn't a cap on insurance they're shelling out more money for peoples' various needs...but EVERYONE has to get insurance so they would also be raking in MORE money. And for those who can't afford coverage on their own, the gov't is going to subsidise your coverage, making it in the end, the insurance companies still get their loads of cash.

    Second – Would you stop comparing this to the 'requirement' to have auto-insurance, which is state mandated, not federal, and that's IF you drive. You don't want to drive, you don't have to have insurance, and you DON'T get fined for not having said auto insurance. You don't have health insurance? You DO get fined by this new law for not having coverage. Admittedly, I do like parts of this law, but some need to go.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Connie

    It's amazing to me that CNN has one small paragraph on this story, and mentioned NOTHING about the Judge saying that the
    ENTIRE BILL must be voided...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. medlock

    Don't require people to buy healthcare and the rest of responsible people will keep paying for it. I see a price hike coming if we give our healthcare control back to insurance companies!

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

      Sorry, Most of us are already seeing the price hike due to obamacare passing. My insurance, which has not gone up in 3 years, just went up 10% due directly to obamacare...

      January 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lefty avenger

    These are Red States controlled by republicans who are loyal to the Hmo's. Republican conservative right wingers want universal health care blocked forever. This is what makes a red state red. Democrat liberal progressives want universal single payer euro canadian health care installed tomorrow forever. This is the battle. Blue State liberals want their version of america which is the total opposite of Red state conservatives. I still think we should split the country into blue and red and give it up. We'll never see eye to eye on anything because we believe in the opposite of everything.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Boomermcd

    Everybody should follow the stellar Massachusetts system. Require everybody to carry health insurance and it will drive healthcare costs down. How did that work? Oh let's see. I've seen 35% increases in my health care costs in each of the last two years. My monthly health care premium is now double my monthly mortgage payment. Let 's get real here, the system as we know it is broken and trying to patch it up doesn't work. I'm far from being a lefty but there are somethings we as a nation need to pay for collectively. Education, the military and most important of all is health care for everybody through a single payer system. Throw out the insurance companies and get health care off the backs of employers.

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

      Generally I would agree with you, but then I see the waste and fraud and general incompetence of government run programs and I am not willing to support the single payer system. With the government as the single payer, there are no checks or balances, only top down rationing and price controls, which don't improve the actual health care system. It it was run with a voucher system, where I get to be my personal single payer for basic health CARE needs then go for it. Then cover catastrophic medical needs through an improved medicare system and I think that would help drive down the costs of actual health care. I just couldn't trust the government in total control though...

      January 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Thamios

    I'm glad someone's challenging the "you have to buy healthcare or else!" portion of the bill. I've said since it was drafted that if I fit into a group that had to buy it, I still wouldn't. I'll pay out of my own pocket, as I would now. No one should ever be forced to buy expensive health care, that will be more expensive when the time comes because insurance companies know people HAVE to buy it, so they can charge them out the... you get the picture.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TR

    We cannot do away with pre-existing conditions without mandating universal coverage. It's just that simple. If we did, no one would buy insurance until they got sick. Then only sick people would be paying into the system. Insurance only works because lots of healthy people pay in and cover the costs for the sick people. Doing away with pre-existing conditions and not mandating universal coverage will put every insurance company out of business. Then sick people have to pay their own hospital bills. Which they won't be able to. So hospitals go out of business. If Americans don't want a coverage mandate, fine...but they have to live with the pre-existing conditions limitations that we've had for so long now.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DavKat

    The thing I love about the Tea Party Supporters: Their followers are carrying the water that will later be used to drown them. Did you see what's on the list of the proposed $500 billion in cuts Rand Paul ( and Michelle Bachman) is supporting? Wake up and smell what's coming your way!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dolleybird

    Massachusetts has had a form of obamacare for years. Recently, some citizens of MA were sued by the state because they did not purchase health insurance. They did not buy it because they could not afford the premiums. The state government fined them $2000.00 because they did not buy the insurance. Only a dumb, math-challenged liberal thinks this makes sense. To state the obvious, how can they afford to pay the fine if they cannot afford to buy the insurance? And what will happen to them next? Will they face prison time because they don't pay the fine? Jokes have surfaced regarding this nonsense -- What are you in for? I robbed a bank. I vandalized a school. I beat up my neighbor. I didn't buy health insurance.

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

    Guess Barak and Mubarak are facing the same "protest" only the US is doing it through it's courts. Barak ans Mubarak are both lame ducks. 2012 and its no-barak. No-Mubarak will occur sooner. BJNJ

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