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. vsaiz

    Wow if health care for Americans is over reaching then i would have to agree that requiring auto insurance is over reaching,because we all know that our cars are much more important than our health. this judge is republican schmuck, idiot, oaf, buffoon, your basic republican JACKWAGON . He should really crawl back under the rock he crawled out from under.

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

      Because you don't have to drive a car to live. Next time try using some of that brain power that has you all worked up to think about the issues at hand.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ted B

    I am a small business owner in Massachusetts and we are now 4 years into our Mass health system of health care for everyone. I have seen my premium go from $200 for a single to $700 in those 4 years and that is with a reduction in benefits and much larger co-pays and deductibles. I am facing the decision of dropping health insurance because I can't afford the increase from $355 to $687 for a single. My employees can't afford it either. So now I have to drop coverage and my employees will be without health insurance unless they get it on their own.
    What has happened in Massachusetts is people only buy coverage when they get very sick. The insurance companies can't deny them coverage because of a pre-existing condition, so the insurance companies have had to raise the premiums to pay for all these very ill people buying coverage only when they need it and the healthy people don't buy coverage at all. End result is it ends up being a new tax on businesses and those individuals who have to buy their coverage, only they don't call it a tax they call it a premium.

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

      Bummer...if only there was some way to mandate that everyone buy health insurance...

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

    I think it's funny how people are against the requirement to have health insurance, but also want to be covered with their pre-existing conditions. These two things are on the same coin, just the different sides, they balance each other out.

    The pre-existing condition portions are their to protect the people from the insurance companies, so that we don't pay for our coverage and then get denied coverage when we get sick from something we've had for years.

    The other side of that is to require people to have coverage, even when they aren't sick. Otherwise nobody would have insurance until they actually needed it. Then they would get it and have their pre-existing condition. The insurance companies would go broke and then we wouldn't have anything but true social medicine.

    It's fine if you want to hate or love Obama, but to just hate everything he says or does, just because some things don't fit your agenda, or you heard a couple of talking points repeated over and over from some guy on TV. Do yourself and your country a favor, actually do some research on your own, from multiple sources, and form your own educated opinion, not just what the talking heads say. But lumping every Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative as some uneducated or whatever derogatory thing you can think of that the time doesn't help anybody, and usually doesn't help your cause.

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

    Hey Dr. Shawn, this is one Canadian who spends 6 months a year in the US and goes home for my health care. Bet your Canadian patients are getting their second opinions across the bridge.

    So there you go.......

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

    Good, to everyone in support of this when was the last government run program that was not a complete mess? With their track record you want them to take over health care? Really? That's the answer? It may need some fixing, but asking the Government to fix it ist a bad decision considering their track record. For my money solutions are more likely to come from less Government, not more.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Terry

    In my neighborhood, when someone needs a serious medical procedure we like to put out begging jars in local restaurants and gas stations. You know the kind. Picture of a cute kid and a little sign that says "Help save Billy's life. He needs surgery, but his hard-working, but poor, parents don't have adequate insurance or the money to pay for the procedure." That is just SO much better than national health care don't you think?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Melinda

    I am required to b uy insurance, How can that be different. If I'm required I am required!!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Derek

    I understand that you cannot force somebody to buy something, but what else would you rather purchase than affordable health care for you and your family?

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

      Gee, maybe food and rent? It is very naive to think that people don't buy health insurance because they don't want to. For many people, health care is simply not affordable. If you are one of the lucky ones that has a group health plan sponsored by your employer, good for you. Most small businesses do not provide health care plans and more than 50% of the businesses in this country are small businesses.

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

    Activist judge.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    How come it's OK to require we buy Auto Insurance???

    January 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bryce

    Just curious... based on the quotes in the news article, how is this different than other gov't mandates. The gov't forces people to do all kinds of things they don't want to do or face stiff fines such as pay into social security (supposedly for our own benefit), pay taxes, be drafted into military service, the list goes on and on. I don't see the difference.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gary

    Also, the reason people might say that someone is name calling a person "racist" in response of something silly they said about President Obama.. The GOP .. Tea Party and on down to silly people putting comments to this story never can produce evidence or conviction to what their particular grievances are with President Obama. Just generalizations, are chair quarter backing and name calling. Show me the money ... if not a racist what else is there?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rep

    What many against reform don't seem to realize is that the mandate is an attempt to SAVE money, not drive it up.
    somehow folks think that they're saving money when people don't buy health care. I keep reading posts saying (in effect) that it's a personal decision that only affects themselves. Well, they're wrong. It doesn't take much thought or reading on the subject to understand that when people remain uninsured, it ultimately drives ups everyone's costs.

    Their emergency care costs tend to be so much higher that it raises costs (i.e., insurance premiums) for all of us. Hospitals don't roll people out into the street in emergencies after all; they treat them. Let's face it, if you elected NOT to buy insurance, but had an emergency, would you refuse emergency care because it's an unfair burden on hardworking insurance-carrying Americans?? Probably not.

    Hospitals pass these costs on to insurance companies, which raise premiums for us and our employers. All this happens now–without healthcare reform. It's one of the big reasons reform are needed, as insurance premimum rise, more can't afford it so more don't buy it. It's a vicious cycle, and it's unsustainable. If you're for fiscal responsibility, jobs, a better economy, etc. You should be for health care reform. They're connected.

    We're all in this together, we can choose to pay a lesser amount for some folks to get regular (e.g., preventative) care or we can may much more for them when emergencies strike.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. omega

    Sorry, I just cant resist. Is your first name Uncle?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Melinda

    CAR Insurance! If I am required to buy this I will not!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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