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. Bob

    You people...get back to work.

    I need more free stuff....

    January 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Little Tin God

    I'm to the point of going ahead and letting the GOP/Tea Baggers repeal the health care plan. Then see how much people figure out what they actually had and how the GOP/Tea Baggers will be scrambling for their jobs in 2012.

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

      You mean like the liberal democrats scrambled for their jobs in 2010?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • M H

      You're an idiot. A majority of the people do not want Obamacare, and it's very harmful to the economy, jobs, and small business. There is a small percentage (less than 10%) that does not currently have insurance already, so the reform isn't neccessary to begin with. All the bill did was raise the national debt exponentially, and give more power to the government. This is one of the main reasons many of the idiots in congress got fired this last election. Reid would be gone, too, but that election was fixed. Reid, Pelosi and Obama need to go.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      @LTG – who's the idiot now?

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

    I'm so tired of hillbillies saying our President is a socialist or communist or .. actually they say both .. which is silly. Most don't even know what they are and most others can't even spell. When asked for particulars as to why they say these things they can't come up with anything. Get this you hillbillies (ones with jobs only) ever since FDR you have been paying income tax. Income tax to the federal government. Money from all distributed to all. Socialism right? right? you are the people not understanding. You are the folks watching FOX as a religion along with Glenn (dumb) Beck and of corse Rush .. I’m really not worried to educate. I’m really not even defending cause it’s just stupid name calling from stupid people. I’ll give some of you words back at you then .. This is America if you don't love it .. LEAVE IT!!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • PapaG

      Since when did it become "American" to take money from one and give it to another under a "Tax". Is it a right to take from a man or woman who produces for their own living and give it to someone who does nothing for their living? If that is so, then I will gladly take 50% of your income and your car and food and house and clothing and any property you have collected and distribuite to me and anyone I feel has the right to it.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • qanerd

      Boy talk about "can't spell" (or punctuate or compose a coherent sentence either).

      January 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dub1045

      Well Gary back at you. If you don't like America without Socialized Medicine.....there's the door.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatl

      i like it when obama is refered to as a communinist AND a Facist. Cracks me up that those throwing these stones can't/don't/won't understand that these are polar opposites on teh political spectrum.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Margot707

      I just loved the sign that one old geezer bagger had claiming "Obama is a Muslin." Actually, i think he's a more refined than Muslin, a "Linen" perhaps.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      PapaG, it sounds to me like you are for a 100% inheritance tax because what have the heirs of millionaires done to EARN their inheritance? Much less than the people on welfare who at least filled out the forms. I agree with you 100%.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      It's been "American" since the 1930's when the lack of a social welfare system caused large portions of the elderly population to go without food, clothing or other basic needs because of the great depression. So, very likely, that's been "American" since before you were "American."

      January 31, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. James

    I hope none of you who have a relative who has a pre-existing condition or disease that will cost you your house or savings to pay for something that the insurance companies won't pay for. I think you would change your tune. Think of your child having a disease that he/she has had for a long time and is dying because a some insurance company wants to protect its bottom line.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      Actually James, most of the people who don't want universal health care are christ eaters. God suffer the little children, I guess.

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

      I agree Todd. I often wonder why an atheist liberal like myself so often lives morals truer to Jesus than a conservative christian. Seems silly to me.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joscelyn

      Really, Luke? A Christ-like Atheist? Jesus did not appreciate those on a high horse. Have you checked on the philanthropy statistics for Christians versus Atheists or are you just talking out of your butt? How much of your paycheck do you give to help the poor sick children?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. common sense

    Nathan, what are you smoking? Record profits? For who, Ford? The vast majority of what little turnaround there has been is the result of stimulus money either given out or voted on before Obama was elected. And record job gains? That is a joke right? What little job gains Obama has posted was temporarfy- i.e. Census jobs. You're in control of the presidency because unfortunately there are so many stupid people in this country. Minorities voted for Obama because he's black. I voted for him because I bought into BS. I want my vote back. The Dems just got their asses handed to them in the House because people are fed up with Obama's lies. Get real dude. We all know we need health care reform. But passing something for the sake of calling it change is the dumbest thing you can do. This is precisely how Hitler came to be- the people were desperate(I am not comparing Obama to Hitler). Let's See said it exactly right, and I think this was what most people had in mind when they voted for Obama. But come one, how can defend the Obama administration? His staff is jumping ship like a pack of rats, adn the people have turned against him. Get a clue

    January 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Waytogo

      You may want to get caught up on several of the topics you are railing about. You are wrong on most of them. You aren't showing much common sense.

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

      Here we go with the Hitler comparisons! For the record, yes you actually DID compare Hitler to Obama.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      No, the Democrats lost seats in the last election because the Republican'ts took the economy so far down that it looks like the Democrats can't fix it. The truth is, we can. It's just going to take a little longer than it took Clinton to clean up after the last Bush mess. The Republican'ts nearly DESTROYED this country's economy and we won't let you hillbillys forget it. Sorry.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joscelyn

      Dave, what do you mean the Republicans destroyed this economy? I believe the Democrats were holding the purse strings during the downturn in the Bush administration.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Waytogo

    I make a great living off healthcare, just the way it is now. You people don't want a break on healthcare. That is fine and dandy to me. My healthcare is great and you people will insure that I make a great wage. I'm tired of trying to give a hand up to the next guy, when he's too stupid to take it. So I say repeal the whole thing and let the rest of you pay for the uninsured to come see me. Enjoy your medical bankruptcies and high premiums, because you are insuring that nothing will change.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      Until people actually try to use their so-called "great American insurance plan" on something substantial, they will never know how much even those WITH health insurance coverage will have to pay. Why do think 70% of bankruptcies are due to not being able to deal with their health care bills?? And the great majority of these people DO HAVE health insurance. This country is way off the track with this problem. All this talk about "Obamacare" is just another ploy by big business (the health care industry, insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, etc, etc,) to make it look like something that is being forced down their throats. They know full well that the American people don't like that sort of approach, so they play it to the hilt. Just another scam on the middle class. What a country!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. karek40

    The country that tries to tax itself into prosperity is like a man in a bucket trying to lift himself by the handle.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Maerzie

    We actually didn't NEED the seats that the Health Care Corporate "person", invented by Bush's Supreme Court, bought for the Republicans. The House is actually a sort of impotent part of the legislative process, which ALL still has to PASS in the Senate, the stronger body, and even THEN, it can be vetoed by the President! It's too bad they no longer have Civics or Government classes in the schools or we'd have quite a bit smarter electorate. Lots of the people who are gullible and actually vote AGAINST themselves in every election would find out the philosophies of the parties and other little "unimpertant" things about Congress and the legislative process. The campaign to stack Congress with ignorant bought newbies was actually a FAILURE . All those billions spent on defamatory propaganda only got them some house (impotent) seats!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dub1045

      The Senate does not start Tax related Legislation. The house does. If it doesn't get started in the house it doesn't happen.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Matt

    This is great for people like me who can't afford insurance. I've always just gone to the ER for routine care anyway and pay what I can. They can't refuse to see you at public hospitals.

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

      Glad to finally meet one of the people I am forced to cover medical costs for. Hope you are well. REALLY, I can't afford to pay much more for you.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Ah, so you're just part of the problem then. Going to the ER for more expensive care and only paying what you can. Did you know that under this new law if you can't afford health insurance you will be given a credit to do so? Probably not because you are too lazy to do research and are fine and content with being a mooch on society.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt


      Thanks Matt. You sound like a great guy, what with all the name calling and all.

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

    America = You are on your own. Millions for the military. Not one penny for the people. We live in Limbaughland. Can we opt out of paying taxes to pay for the largest military in the world? Nah.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John B

    YAWN. Sorry...but another waste of money by a Republican state. We all know this won't be decided until it goes to the Supreme Court. But if it makes you feel (yawn) win!!! Go Republicans!!! You'll get rid of all those pesky poor people soon!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. illegal

    Um, well if you Libs would enforce some of the immigration laws instead of catering too and creating a a false decleration of racism the emergency rooms, welfare, and public school system wouldn't be under such strain. If you want to support social reform support Social Darwinism.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wallster

    a Reagan appointed Judge... how shocking.

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

      Regan caused out current problems in health care when he signed EMTALA into law and now a judge appointed by him is trying to stop Obama from fixiing it. I will never understand why so many people think Regan was a good president!!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Whew

    It's interesting to hear the folks who favor Obamacare rail about this decision by saying, in essence, "Yeah, let's go back to the old way when insurance companies screwed everyone every day." Um, had you been paying attention during the whole health care debate, you'd have heard that all Republicans wanted to do was pass real reform that would install laws prohibiting the abuses liberals were screaming about: Laws against denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, laws capping malpractice awards, laws allowing greater access through selling policies across state lines, laws against dropping coverage once limits are exceeded, tort reform, etc. But no, liberals want the control over our lives, they want the government to take it all over, they want everyone else to pay for those who refuse to pay for it themselves, which is exactly what Obamacare is. Why not just pass a few laws that prohibit the behavior we all abhor? Why the takeover and putting us on the road to a disastrous single-payer system? And if Obamacare is so great, why the 700-plus exemptions? Every single American should be screaming bloody murder about those exemptions. OK, you want to shove this down our throats, then EVERY SINGLE PERSON should have to abide by it, including every single politician and their staffers.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    We certainly don't want to force people to pay for health insurance when they can go to the ER for their health needs for "free".

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