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. Jill American

    Oh those darn activist judges! (I say tongue in cheek).

    January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joseph

    A conservative judge in a conservative state did a conservative thing. Next stop, Supreme Court.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Karl

    I agree with Thomas Jefferson

    I trimble for my country when I reflect that God is JUST...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alan

    If you are in Congress and voted for this, you should be fired TODAY!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. D Brown

    The mandate is that All americans must have insurance. not all must pay for it.. This will go to the supreme court where it will get the 5-4win.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mnjoe

    It seems like not long ago, the republican noise machine's cause du jour was activist judges. Since this judgment suits them, I'm sure they don't mind.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jon

    Yeah, yeah. Just put it to the Supreme Court already. We all know that's where this is headed.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DougE

    Page 50/section 152:  The bill will provide insurance to all non-U.S. residents, even if they are here illegally.

    So we are forced to pay but illegals get it free...

    Page 58 and 59: The government will have real-time access to an individual's bank account and will have the authority to make electronic fund transfers from those accounts

    Just take your money at will

    Page 272, section 1145: Cancer hospitals will ration care according to the patient's age.

    So they decide if you live or die!!!

    Educate yourself people, this is not the answer.. NO OBAMACARE!!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • BurnTHalO

      Educate yourself. That is NOT what is in the actual bill. In fact, you can go look up section 246 and see that it specifically says no credits for illegal aliens. Your section you describe on page 50 simply states you cannot discrimante for: "personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services." Try going and reading the bill before your nonsense rambling.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You should be a comedy writer!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ted Peters

    This was never about the poor... it was about control freaks taking over a huge chunk of the economy. There are many other ways of assuring coverage for the poor without having to fit all of us (young and old, healthy and infirmed) into the same Maoesque health care mold.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Som Ting Wong

    It doesn't matter. The whole piece of trash bill will be repealed in 2013. It is just a matter of time.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JBD

    Don't want to enrol in Obamacare = too bad next time at the ER!
    Don't believe in evolution = no molecular biology era medicine for you when you'll need it!
    Don't want to pay property tax = no cops/firefithers at your door next time you call 911!
    Don't want to vaccinate your kids = try Tempra cold medicine next time your kids get measles or polio!
    Don't want to sign your organ donor card = guess what will happen when you need a transplant!
    You think stem cell medicine is killing babies = tough luck if you get Alzeimer later!
    Don't want government to tell you what to eat, not smoke = no government payed heart medicine and cancer drugs later!
    On and on and on...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Al Fatah

    I think you americans dont care for the rest of people my brothers in america are suffering a lot because of your dumb policies but soon our beloved savior Osama will bring us a better future and america will suffer again

    January 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tom

    ONE question.... If Obamacare is such a great idea, then why did this president allow over 700 waivers to his democratic unions and biggest supporters {donors} opt out of this wonderful plan????

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

      BULLSEYE!!!!!! SEIU – $27M spent on the Obama campaign – granted a federal expemtion from Obamacare mandates. I thought unions were all just out there existing so they could look out for the best interest of their brothers. Guess Obamacare was not in their best interest!!! The waiver, oh that's easy. The federal government granted it becuase SEIU could prove it would put undo financial hardship on the union plan – that is, implementing the Obamacare mandates to the union administered and self-funded kick backing health plan would have bankrupted the union. Can't have that $27M in political contributions go away. WHAT A DISGRACE!!!!!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eddie (Confused)

    I do not get it. If all states obligate you to have a drivers licence to drive car in which that car needs registration and proof of insurance so that if you get into an accident you are covered how is this any different from someone needing healthcare insurance...You drive you need insurance, if not tough luck...You live you need insurance, if not you die cuz no-one wants to take care of you.....Where are our frikiting values...

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

      It is your choice to have that care and drive it....if you decide not to, then no one fines for you not having a car or it's auto insurance.

      Under this law, if you do not buy coverage, you are fined. Fined for just living.

      Therein lies a difference.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lea

    So does this mean republicans believe that it is better to give people health care that they don't pay for than to insist that they pay something? That is the basic argument. Since Reagan, everyone is guaranteed care. If they do not have insurance or the money to pay themselves, those with insurance or money cover their cost. For those not paying attention, if the government pays through Medicaid or Medicare (under any name) we are the ones who pay. Health care is not now nor has it ever been FREE. I for one think everyone should pay something. Obviously it's the Republicans who don't think they should pay who are socialist! BTW there is precedent for the Federal Government forcing people to buy insurance – just ask any of us who pay flood insurance.

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

      If they can't afford to buy health insurance under this law, the gov't buys it for them them health care for free what changed?

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

      Not the same kiddo. The government doesn't force you to live in a flood plain. Next....

      January 31, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
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