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.' "

FULL STORY

Filed under: Health • Health care reform • Politics • Supreme Court
soundoff (1,747 Responses)
  1. Rob

    What a joke about health care... The same people who want it taken back will be the same people crying when they can't get covered. These are the same people who support congress and they have Government health care and its better then the rest of us. If so bad then ask your Congress Rep to stop using the Government Health care and purchase something else.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Congress doesn't have "government health care". They have an expensive private plan that you and I can't buy into. It's NOT run by the government, and it's paid for by my taxes and your taxes. Learn what you're talking about before you start spouting off about things.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • DemocratinNY

      You are absolutely right. It is a "I have what I want, you're on your own" mentality. Let everyone in Congress lose their insurance and see what they do for coverage.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • nate lindsey

      I believe that we should all be able to have the same insurance that Congress has. Maybe that will drive the cost down, because then Insurance people will have to get out of the Tea party,(GOP) pockets.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Matthew

    Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war! The game's afoot.

    Everyone has always known the health care law would end up in front of the Supreme Court. With the latest sections being struck down, we're moving toward the Supreme Court right on schedule. Nothing new to see here.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • JK

      Now only if Dr. McCoy was here with his tricorder to fix these damn Klingons we wouldn't be in this current mess.

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

    I fully support President Obama's Healthcare Reform. I respect his determination to right the many wrongs in this country when it comes to Healthcare run by the insurance companies. Attempts to repeal-rewrite-redo what is now the Law of the Land are but feeble attempts by those who oppose anything and everything this great President tries to do and continues to do. Keep pushing President Obama!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Greg Morelli

    This from the same state which gave us "Bush V Gore," perhaps the worst decision since "Dred Scott V Sandford." Now Florida wants to take away a human right, health care for all. I say it's time to snip the peninsula, like Lorena Bobbit.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • razmataz

      First of all, it was a FEDERAL JUDGE.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Florida doesn't want to take away a "human right". .... they're taking away the ability of people like YOU to force people like ME to pay for you to go to a doctor. Get a job and get health insurance the way the rest of the country does! Oh what's that? You can't get a job because you dropped out of high school? Oh, so that makes it ok to force people with the determination to make something of themselves take care of people like you that just want to live off the people's tax money? get real!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Yeah... you keep on ignoring how continuing recounts showed Gore lost twice: First in court, second at the ballot, because it doesn't support your nutjob conspiracy theory.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Randy

    As an employer that offers health care I've noticed you can't force anyone to buy health care. Half of my employees that are eligible to participate don't opt in. If they did our premiums would be lower as we are spreading the pain across more participants. I say lets give them an incentive and make health care premiums tax deductible for the employee and the employer.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • jrm

      The supporters of Slavery were strict constructionists too.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christie

      That's great of you to include health care as part of your business! It certainly draws better applicants AND makes your business more attractive economically because you care about your employees!

      But how crazy are those employees? They must think they're invincible!! Maybe they have spouses though with health insurance plans that they choose to go on instead?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      My guess is that either A) employees who opt out are getting their insurance through their spouse's employer or B) the insurance you provide is not very good and therefore they are getting their insurance on their own (which in many cases can be a significant savings – especially if it just the employee and spouse (and no children) or C) you provide not very good insurance AND not very good pay – so nodoby can afford it. Just some thoughts....

      January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      JRM, and the supporters of communism and fascism and totalitarianism were liberals too. Drawing your conclusion based on the weak comparison you've made shows just how weak your mind is. Grow up, get an education, and get a job.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      Goodwin I offer bcbs of texas ppo and I pay above average. I notice the some of the 26 year old plus crowd wants to spend their money on other things. those with kids take it and those that are closer to my age take it. I pay for employee and children and pay 50% and 100% for annuals and still it gets rejected and according to my broker that is norm.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      Randy – No offense, but that is not the greatest health insurance. PPO is not the "cadillac" plan as it bascially requires the employee to stay in network or seek services at only certain locations. What about the employee that might see a specialist who is not in network? Additionally, in my industry (engineering) most company's who do provide PPO's pay 80% and 20% for the employee to pay. At 50/50, that could be QUITE expensive. I'm not putting you down – the fact that you offer health insurance is GREAT. However, there are many reasons why people choose not to get the employer health insurance. If they are of the younger crowd as you suggest, they pay next to nothing for a GREAT plan since there are no costs associated with them. Young people at our firm also turn down our health insurance, but usually end up on it when they have kids or get older (as you suggest). OR – they actually get injured and smarten up and realize that in just one moment your perfect health could go from GREAT to Critical Condition.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chris

    This is for those who do not have healthcare! I bet the judge has very good healthcare. But are we US Americans not supposed to care for our fellow citizens who may have less than us? Can we help those in need by giving a bit of our wealth, however small it may be? If we thought more about helping others rather than hoarding our wealth, or sparingly distributing it when the time or season is right, we would not have to have this healthcare bill at all!. But unfortunately, as the wealthiest nation in the world, we are also the greediest, even when it comes down to our own citizens who could benefit. Land of the free, for some...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • jay zee

      well said!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Insurance can be purchased for as low as $30/mo – I believe their unemployment check alone can cover that. I miss accountability.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • nheckt

      We are the wealthiest for a reason. We earned it. We give more to the world hands down. No one in the history of the world has done as much as we have. I believe in sharing but you are no better than a bum. Telling people what they should or should not do.is not up to you. Just because you think something does not make it right. I pay my way and spend on what I want to spend on. You want to give more, or pay for someone else you do it that is fine. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      chris it is not an issue of giving we give more than any other country in the world. 1 of the reasons we are 1 of the most wealthiest countries in the world is because were not forced by the government to give up or hard earned money.I know many on the left would love for us to be your socialist communist country . historically those ystems do not work for many reasons. I give to charity because I choose to not because the government forces me to I prefer that form of government

      January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • TDB

      Beautifully put.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • HH

      Very well said indeed. Its very sad that someone would rather have 13 cars then pay a little extra money so someone else doesn't have to be homeless and suck money from other government programs because they got sick and couldn't even be accepted into insurance, much less afford it.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      How sad it is to see people with such great amount of wealth and knowledge only share with those whom they seem "worthy". Because we are the wealthiest nation by no means we are the greatest. Share with others, share with strangers even. Everyone can help, it's just a matter if you truly want to or not. There is always some way you can help.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • DUHHH....

      Funny, Chris. You say "we" should not hoard our wealth? Okay, since you most likely do not have wealth, it's so nice of you to offer to have everyone else share because you are not done smoking your weed? I know...you'll look for a job tomorrow...you're too high right now.

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

      Yes, Chris,the judge has a good health care plan and can afford any bill compare to someone with the whole family on a sick bed without a job and at the edge of foreclosure. I strongly believe if this plan has been in place ten years ago ,insurance companies would have abided with the plan with no qualms..

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

      Such hatred... How would one know my social status, income, level of education, or any part of me for that matter? If you would like to debate this issue I am open to it. If you want to bash me for other reasons, feel free. Though, only the fool speaks when he has to say something and has nothing to say...

      January 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. james

    Alright, Harry Reid - you'e got the ruling on the largest lawsuit on Obamacare. Time to put this on the schedule for a Senate vote.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anthony Serps Serpico

    A serious overstep of judicial power.
    Checks and balances anyone?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Don

    Next idea: change the tax laws to raise everybody's income tax by $500, but allow a $500 credit if you have health insurance.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christie

      How much do you think health care costs, even for healthy people? Clearly you have no idea. Five hundred dollars?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mandate

      Funny, no one claims the fed mandates home ownership although clearly the tax code penalizes people that don't.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Mandate, no, the fed doesn't mandate home ownership. And no, they don't penalize you for not owning one. Nothing in the US requires anyone to own a house and penalizes them if they don't go out and buy one. Get a life! Learn something and get a job!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lancewilliams

    Don't understand why so many people would be against this. Do you know the benefits to this new healthcare? No more limits, you can't be dropped do to some dumb error on your application, you can now keep your kids on your insurance while they're attending college up to age 26, and much more.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      That's "until age 26, their status as a Student not withstanding". Doesn't matter what they are doing, they could be a post graduate student or a couch riding stoner but you can keep them on your insurance 'til they are 26.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • PapaG

      So why are soooo many UNIONS getting waviers??? If it is sooooo Geat!!! and who pays for this "free" health car for the lazy people who do not want to work??

      January 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      is it the government fault if your kid is a stoner and a loser or is it your own fault?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anthony Serps Serpico

    A serious overstep of judiciary power, agree or disagree this is not something for the courts to decide.
    Checks and balances anyone?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Check and Balance

      You keep saying checks and balance. That is actually exactly what this is. The judiciary is there is ensure that the congress and the executive branches do not overstep the authority given to them.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • RJohnson

      Yes this ruling is a check on an overstep of legislative power!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robb

    None of this matters until it reaches the Supreme Court. Lower court rulings do nothing at all except elevate the case to the next level, which is the Federal Court of Appeals in Atlanta next. It doesn't do away with the law, it doesn't send it into limbo, unless there is an injunction attached to it.

    So don't do the happy dance too fast, folks. It ain't over until the Supreme Court rules, and that could be some time from now.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Andrew

    Means nothing until the Supreme Court gets involved.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. A. Goodwin

    Just goes to show you how backwards FL really is! Sorry, but most of the states trying to shoot down the Health Care Reform bill are – GASP – "red" states. Why does it not surprise me? They are also the states that – GASP – need healthcare the most (The 8 worst states for health care are Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Utah, Oklahoma, and Idaho – not surprising to me, but could be for you). But go ahead you rednecks and get rid of the mandate. You will only complain when your are on your deathbead and nobody is there to take care of you. Oh wait, yeah you will – you'll be on the doorsteps of all the hospital Emergency Rooms...getting well on MY dime.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • nheckt

      You are (gasp) a dumb A_$$. (gasp)

      January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned4Fla

      Amen brother. Well said.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned4Fla

      What's wrong with the logic here commenter? Explain.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      nheckt – Is that all you can come up with? You know what – fools like you just love this topic but never have any suggestions on what to do. If we as a nation had gone with universal healthcare, we would have paid an additional 4.75% in taxes. I paid that alone AND THEN SOME last year between co-pays, insurance premiums, and drugs. Do I think our current health care bill is great – NO. It needs IMPROVEMENT. But I would hate to see this give way to what we had – when insurance company's can drop an individual for being sick...or not allowing me to switch jobs (and insurance company's) because my son has epilepsy – a pre-existing condition. The GOP so afraid of taking away individual rights, but in the end takes away the rights of the people to have access to health care. And yes – it is a RIGHT – go look up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948 (for which the US was a part of). It gives us the right to MEDICAL CARE. Too bad so many do not actually get that medical care. And if we repeal the healthcare bill – millions of people go back to being uninsured.

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

      Obama won Florida and Virginia – you have to admit that they are at least swing states but nice try!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      Jake – I did not mention FL or VA in the list of the 8 worst states for health insurance. Sorry, bud, re-read.

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

      It isn't that health care is not important and shouldn't be out there, it is how we pay for it. It isn't appropriate for an employer that can barely pay the rent during tough times to provide health insurance. Credits at the end of the year doesn't pay rent in January. I would like to see a system where individuals buy their own insurance and you dont have to pay for any of us a the emergency room

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

      Hahhaha. Who's dime do you think it would be on under the new healthcare system? The governments? Stupid! That's still us!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      James – yes, but it costs far less for people to be insured than it does for a person to enter the ER. Additionally, only those who qualify for the medicare will receive it – most people will still buy from insurance carriers as it has ALWAYS been. The mandate requires you to have insurance – it doesn't tell you to get the Medicare payout – if you qualify for Medicare fine, but the average joe who could not afford health care before will get the subsidies and get private insurance. Dime for dime, it costs less for someone to receive preventative care, than to end up in the ER with a heart attack needing triple bypass surgery.

      Randy – Dont provide insurance. Easy answer. Tell your employee's that you'll give them X amount so that they can buy a private plan, but dont give insurance. There is no law that says you HAVE to provide insurance. Sure, it shows your employees you care...and I'm sure getting a tax break for providing insurance helps – but you are not required to provide it. So dont. Of course, when people flock away from your company that woudl suck, but there is always someone looking for a job, and that person is probably willing to take it and get the subsidies under a private plan. And if you are the same person who posted elsewhere, your PPO 50/50 insurance is that that great anyway.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. joey

    one judge's opinion is just that.

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