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. Rob

    Got to say, I agree with this one. Requiring that people buy a product from a private company or face fines simply for being alive is flat wrong and never should have been in the bill.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Zaggs

    Toobin's analysis is also useless. no judge has followed through on the individual mandate. Only to say Congress could act against inactivity for health care. None of the previous judges even looked to see where that authority would stop. Its not a disagreement.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Steve (Bucks County, PA)

    Legislating from the bench usually means going against the will of the people. In this case, it was Congress who defied the will of the people in crafting a bad bill that no one read.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Stan

    Interesting. Why haven't the state & federl laws (Florida included) requiring auto liability insurance also been struck down? Required auto physical damage insurance to cover the lien, required private mortgage insurance, required homeowners insurance to protect the mortgagor, Politics, politics, politics.....hey, other countries, want some of this????

    January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dick

    US Supreme Court: 5./4. How about that?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. morgan odonnell

    Another republican judge getting us closer to the New World Order, now we can do away with the congress and senate. It's going to be a one party government

    January 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jay

    Oh MAN! The Republicans must be OUTRAGED at this liberal ACTIVIST JUDGE!!!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Scot B


    January 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Geo

    This pretty much a joke. Since the law hasn't been enjoined, there is virtually zero effect except that it will one day be in front of the Supreme Court and they will not be able to rule against the law. Have fun chortling but this law will not go away. Ha Ha

    January 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rob J

    How do they make it illegal to not have car insurance? Why doesn't some republican judge strike that law down? Oh you say it wasn't made by the black liberal anti-christ?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lewis C.

    Why not solve this problem of achieving near-universal coverage by holding financially responsible all uninsured adults for their medical care, up to and including seizing most, if not all, of their assets, until the bill is fully paid? Here's the reality that confronts us now : those of us who pay taxes and opt for health insurance effectively subsidize the uninsured in this country. Facing a stark financial disincentive of paying the full cost of treatment MIGHT BE MORE EFFECTIVE than "forcing" someone to buy health insurance. Of course, this policy alternative would fly in the face of the current practice that allows unisured adults to receive "free care." Well here's a bulletin: all that "free care" that the U.S. health system provides uninsured persons ain't so free at all. So some uninsured yahoo who receives a massive head injury from a motorcycle accident effectively forces all of us to pay full freight for his hospital expenses. How fair is the status quo?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BR

    Part of law struck down? You mean the whole bill is!! GOOD

    January 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Doug

    I just want to thank the great state I live in for providing free health insurance for me, as my income level is not very high. It saves me over $240 a month for just myself to be insured.

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

    I would love to find a poll that determines what percentage of individuals who are so "outraged" by the individual mandate already have health insurance (courtesy of the U.S. government in the form of Medicare or as employer-provided health insurance). I suspect that percentage is fairly high... Why should these people give a hoot about the individual mandate? And I also suspect a lot of the anti healthcare reform mentality out there is less about the desire to see more people getting quality healthcare than a fear of having to "share" healthcare with others they feel aren't so deserving.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DinoBob

    I will just choose not to have a job to drive to, then i do not have to have car insurance. And I will choose not to have a mortgage, soIi will not have homeowner's insurance. And I will choose not to get sick, so I do not need to have health insurance. I wish all of you who do not wish to be required to have health insurance a life with no illness or injury. And if your wife has a heart attack, please do not call 911- you have opted out. Dummies.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
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