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. JJL80922

    Hospitals are required to provide free emergency room care IF they took federal money, from certain programs, for building the hospital. That is why privately build and operated hospitals are not required, unless it is a function of State or Local Licencing.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe The Politician

    wooooo wooooo, here come the two-two-twain.. ALL ABOARD!

    It's sad, our government want's to force us to buy something we don't believe in... is this the beginning of the NWO?

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

      Our government also ordered us to forcibly integrate our schools, despite popular public opinion. Is that an example of the NWO?

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

    Quit comparing this to Car Insurance and Seat Belt laws. Yes we are ASKED to carry car coverage and wear safetly belts, but we are only pentalized if we are caught not wearing one or not being insured, it is a risk we choose. This new law would automatically fine anyone without health coverage, whether you are sick or not, and no free right to choose.

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

      The other reason the car insurance analogy does not work is that you can live you life without a car(therefor no car insurance), you cant live without being alive.

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

      So what about social security. You have to pay into it weather you want to or not, and if you don't, you get fined. Healthcare, like SS, is a social safety net. We either have to agree that we will let you die on the side of the road, or we have to mandate that you buy insurance. SS is like insurance, you may not need it, but odds are you will so lets do the responcible thing and put aside some cash just in case. Same goes for healthcare.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bruce

    Give it all the way. Open the borders. This country sucks. Land of the lazy, Home of the criminals.

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

    We all knew this would happen.
    The conservatives on BOTH sides argue against universal health care, something this country CAN AFFORD;
    regardless of the constant Lies telling us we can't. Americans must STOP being so easily led by the corporate tools
    in congress and that includes the Tea Baggers.
    If the Tea Baggers really were for lowering taxes, they'd be going after the salaries of congress/white house/ supreme courts etc. but of course they haven't and won't because that would affect their bank accounts.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe citizen abroad

    I thought our country was about opportunity for all. But you can't pursue opportunity if you're not healthy. So I guess the real "American dream" is, "Every man for himself." Whatever happened to everyone doing their part for their country? Whatever happened to pulling together to make life better for every American? Instead, the people complaining the loudest about "being forced to buy something" and other such nonsense are those who are most able to afford their own care. In fact, their own costs would go down. Everyone's would. The way we treat each other is the best indicator of who we are as a nation. By that measure, we are at a very low point.

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

    One step away from voiding the law which requires emergent treatment without producing valid up to date insurance.
    Who knows one day you end up unconscious in the emergency room and they just leave you at the doorstep becuase you forgot your insurance card that morning.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    Who doesn't have health insurance?
    The illegals.... that their problem, who cares.
    The who CHOOSE not to.... that's their decision.
    Everyone else... lets get a law that HELPS them.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TeeLow

    Would Clarence Thomas have to recuse himself from any case involving Healthcare due to his wife's outspoken opposition to the issue? I mean, how could he possibly be unbiased... unless he planned on sleeping on the couch the rest of his life?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Everyone has biases. For you to cite Clarence Thomas, and him alone, shows yours.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ChicagoDean

    If ObamaCare was so great, then why 1) has the Administration given more than 700 exemptions (many to unions that supported Obama) and 2) did Congress exempt itself from the plan? Nancy Pelosi, champion of Middle Class, while she spent $2 million flying on Air Force jets during two-year period, gets plastic surgery (which she exempted from extra taxes, even though they take away from medical resources), etc. Don't be fooled neither the Democrats nor the Republicans care about our well-being.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Q.

    How wonderful to a Nazi judge who loves to kill people who does not have health insurance. Nazi GOP are racists and murderers.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rene SF

    only in Florida! Ignorant red states!

    TRUE death panels exist in states ran by the right wing

    January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rev. UP!

    Why should health care be based in a system with a profit motive? As long as there is a profit motive the bottom line IS the "bottom line" – not providing the best possible care. Capitalism does NOT work for everything. Health care should be free, for everyone. There should be no costs involved, no out of pocket expenses, period. If we weren't fighting two un-winnable wars, we could get this done.

    As a country, we need to re-think a lot of things, especially if we plan on being around in the next 50 years. Capitalism is not an environmentally or socially-sustainable model. It's time we started putting people and planet ahead of profit. There is a Cree Indian prophecy that goes,

    "Only after the last tree has been cut down.
    Only after the last river has been poisoned.
    Only after the last fish has been caught.
    Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."

    Peace and Wisdom.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Peace and wisdom? You need a little of both. Don't know of any other country that I'd rather be in than this capitalist one! Visit some anti-capitalist/socialist nations, and you'll learn why.

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

    Thank God Ronald Reagan appointed Judge Roger Vinson to his position. Elections do have their consequences.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. justme

    Cool! this means I don't have to buy auto insurance anymore right. I mean the State of Florida "mandates" i.e. by law, that I have auto insurance. Now maybe I can buy some health insurance with that money!

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