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. Christopher

    Sweet! I'm ready to file my suit now regarding my state forcing me to buy car insurance! And bonding insurance for my contracting company! The government should not force me to buy these things! <>

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

    Obama will take care of us who can't afford it...I believe in the change...send me tha money!!!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KB Tampa, Florida

    To all those who are complaining about this. Let me pose a simple question to you. What if they didnt stop at requiring you to purchase health care and then insisted on you only buying organic produce? What about stopping people from purchasing soda? Fatty foods? Pizza?.....The argument of whether or not forcing people to purchase healthcare is not the real issue that Americans should be concerned about, but the fact that the government is REQUIRING all people to purchase a product just to be alive. The argument of making people purchase car insurance is a mute point. I dont have to drive a car to live. Under Obama's law I would have to purchase a product just to breath or be forced to pay a penalty. I personally have heath insurance and also think that everyone should have it, but it's not my place to force others to have it. The greatest thing about this country is that I have the freedom to make that choice for myself. "All Americans are guaranteed the right to pursue happiness, but not all are guaranteed the same outcome"

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

      I would rather see people pay fines for not having insurance than my taxes go up to pay for them to visit the ER anyways. Plus, what about the debt? Or having Medicare extended by a decade? These are the real issues, not whether or not you need to buy it, which of most us already have to do anyways.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dollar man

    republicans and tea partiers need to learn the lesson of egypt. it won't be long before people take to the streets armed with their legal semi automatic weapons

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

    We might as well have a health care system into which we all pay. Thousands of people go to the emergency rooms without health insurance and still get care. Most hospitals can't deny care. But, the bills get passed onto us, the paying customers. So, what is the difference? We still pay for the health care of those people but we don't benefit.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:42 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 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The Veteran

    This just means that it will go to the Supreme Court.

    As for the folks out here fighting NOT TO HAVE COVERAGE: Keep fight, while I enjoy my GOVERNMENT PROVIDED HEALTHCARE for just a little over $200 bucks a year. I've got mine. I would like for your to get yours. But if you are so ignorant that you would rather pay through the nose, or be denied coverage, then so be it.

    The stupidity, hypocrisy, and greed of Conservatives never cease to amaze me....

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

      Amen brother! MassHealth = $5 prescriptions. Who would be against that?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michael

    It amazes me when numerous cases have already upheld the ARA that the general press expends the ink on this ruling. All this means is that the matter will go immediately to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Considering that there challenges farther along that this matter, the case that ends up before the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to come from on of those other districts, and not this Florida ruling.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jamesbrummel

    Great, here's the solution:
    two choices
    a) Buy into the plans, with your money,employer,help from gov't if you can't afford. You get a nice shiny "Fix me if you find me unconcious, I'm covered" card
    b)Don't buy into the plan. You sign away any claim to health care you can't pay for out of pocket then and there. No "Fix me if you find me unconcious, I'm covered" card, so if you are hit by a car bleeding and unscious I guess you just die.

    Is that rugged US individualist personal responsibility enough for you ?

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

      Sounds good to me!
      Although the whole hit by a car scenario is so lame, I'm surprised you posted it. If you get hit by a car, their insurance will pay to make you whole. Unless of cores you ran out in front of oncoming traffic, then your on your own.
      I would also like to point out that just because someone does not have insurance, does not mean they cannot pay for their own health care needs. They just end up paying a whole lot less, for better care than a person with insurance. I went several years with out insurance. Total health care cost: ~$300. I have had insurance the last three years. Total health insurance cost: ~$4608, total health care costs: ~$300.
      So, as you can see, if I forgo having insurance, I can save thousands of dollars a year. I could save that money for a rainy day or any other need. If my work didn't pay for 80% of my insurance costs, I would certainly drop it. But its a good deal when someone else is paying the majority.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. searchingForAnAthiestExtremist

    If we can't mandate every citizen have coverage, we shouldn't be able to force hospitals to treat patients without coverage.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kathy

    The whole Nanny State idea is terrible. The government thinks the American people are too stupid and inept to provide for their own retirement, so they created Social Security to force people into it. Now they think the American people are too stupid and inept to care for their own health. I think that if a person really cares about his/her retirement or health, that person should take the effort to provide for themselves. Millions of people do already save for their retirement and have health insurance. So what's stopping other people from doing it?
    And if they don't care about retirement or health, why is it the responsibility of the goverment to do it?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. FedUpWithFreeLoaders

    I like the part of the bill that says insurance companies can't deny anyone. If someone wants insurance they can now get it. Now if they would change the law to let doctors and hospitals refuse treatment for those either not insured or can't pay. Mechanic won't fix my car if I can't pay. Maybe doctors shouldn't be forced to treat those that can't or won't pay.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Me

    @educated... you're Educated??? how could you be educated if you cant spell illegal??? illeagle hahahaha. that is whats wrong with America, people are not educated enough to know the facts. you are saying that the "illeagles" are the ones doing this doing that not doing this and that. go back to chool, read, and educate yourself. even if send all the "illeagles' back to their native land, you will still have the problem we are facing today. people with power abusing it. America is corupt. cutting education budgets, while officials get paid in the six figure range. wise up people. its not the "illeagles" fault, its the leaders of this nation. wait a minute, arent we all "illeagles"? America was Native American Indians and you guessed it, Mexicans.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark


    U.S has best Healthcare system in world
    Canada has life threatening lines for Healthcare
    Britain has life threatening lines for Healthcare

    U.S pays more for Healthcare than any other nation and has a lower life expectancy and higher rate of illness than the majority of industrialized nations

    Canada and Britain along with Norwegian countries have outstanding single payer systems

    The U.S has SOME and FEW top notch world renown hospitals but if you (normal middle class American) think you have access to that then you are mistaken

    Canada has a more dynamic economy, better healthcare, healthy citizens, lower crime rate, and better access to education than the U.S

    I wish we would emulate Canada on a lot of Domestic policies...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matt

    Obama 2012

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

      Yeah...Obama 2012. The year he welcomes in his replacement!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lisa

    I think it's important for people to realize that you can't FORCE someone to buy heath insurance. If an uninsured person wants insurance but can't get it for whatever reason (pre-existing condition, too expensive, etc.) THAT is what the Heathcare Reform should be about...making it more accessible and affordable for those who WANT it. Believe it or not, some people simply don't want to be insured (don't want to waste the money, don't believe in doctors/medicine, etc.)...Politicians should focus on making it affordable for those who WANT it, instead of requiring every individual to pay for something they don't want or will never utilize.

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

      People don't want to not be insured. People don't want to pay for it. However when that uninsured person breaks their arm and has to go to the emergency room, you're paying for it.

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