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. drewm

    I say we nationalize the entire health care system, from hospitals right through the insurance industry. Take it out of the private sector, eliminate the greed, and get help to people who need it. Its disgusting to think that people in this country are forced to die when medical treatment is readily available. If your more interested profit than human life, you should not be allowed to operate in the health care industry. period.

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

    I can't wait to see Olbermann go crazy about this on MSNBC, oh wait...

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

    I firmly agree that we need to correct the problems in the health insurance industry and the issues with health care costs. Our quality of care is fine, but the cost is the problem.

    As for the law itself, I agree with some of what the law stated (and yes, I've read it beginning to end) but other parts I do not agree with. One of the major factors that I have disagreed with from the very beginning is the individual mandate. My opinion on it is that by forcing a person to purchase health insurance you are taxing their very existance. it's not like driving a car where one makes the CHOICE to become a driver, and driving is a privledge not a right, you have a RIGHT to life, liberty, etc etc. The government cannot tax you for being alive, and that is what the mandate comes down to, from my perspective.

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

    The government mandates that we all pay into our on retirement fund; social security. How is a health care mandate really that different? It would be indentical if we were to proceed to nationalized heath care as I believe we should.

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


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

    The only reason the ignorants throw around words, like "socialist", "communist", "Marxist", etc., and all the other childish 2nd grade bully words, Gary, is because they learn them from their leader, Glenn Beck, the college flunkout! AND the other college flunkouts, like RushLimbaugh, who can only GET jobs as bullies. They are the recruiters for their party because, without the gullibles' votes, the REAL Republicans, (thw WEALTHY ones they make their legislation for) could NEVER win any election ATALL. There simply aren't enough multi-millionaires and billionaires in this country to win an ANY national election even as dog-catcher! Mind you, I said MULTI-millionaires! Just having a single million these days is peanuts as far as being a person who BENEFITS financiallly OR physically from that party! The Republican agenda benefits ONLY the extremely wealthy, but the clowns vote for them and fall for their propaganda and single-issue lies anyway.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nicholas35

    All of you right wingers screaming about the mandadted coverage – you do realize that the idea of a mandate requiring people to purchase insurance is an old Republican idea right? Nixon even proposed it, but in that case the Dems killed it. Just this time around it was a Dem who supported it so the Republican leaders all up and in arms about it.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 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 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James

    I had a dental procedure done today. It took 3 people to do what it took one dentist to do in the past. One dental assistant took my xrays and took pictures in a computer. The dentist evaluated the xrays and pictures, then he drilled my tooth, then he left and another especially trained assistant came in and filled my tooth. Now, if it took one dentist to do the job for a set hourly rate, what do you think the other two people will add to my bill? You know that the assistants are making $30,00.00 per year and the dentist is making upwards of $50,000+ a year. I am having to pay 3 people to do a procedure that used to take 1 dentist to do at his set hourly rate. No wonder our medical bills are skyrocketing.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Duop

    An ideological warfare in our country is getting to the point that is even more annoying than China’s rise to military and economic power. This is clearly a slap on the faces of those buried in the political shadow. What a cheap game!!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DRC

    The entire 2400 page bill is garbage and should be scrapped. While I agree that healthcare needs reform, I'm sure the basics can be done in 100 pages or less. 10 pages to state that no one can be denied for pre-existing conditions, 1 page that says a child can be on their parents until age 25, 5 pages to allow health insurance companies to compete across state lines, 79 pages to put limits on medical malpractice.

    Problem solved and in 100 pages or less without bribes, paybacks, corruption, earmarks and 2300 pages of garbage.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Stevelb1

    They should have expanded Medicare for all. Just one big universal program. This is a mess.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dave in Altmar

    Ok, fine. Change the "individual mandate" to one that increases any individual's taxes by whatever amount is decided to represent the cost of individual private health care insurance – and then provide a matching income tax deduction to said individual if proof of coverage for the full 12 months of the tax year is included with the tax forms.

    That's how Massachusetts does it with RomneyCare...

    January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bill

    No severability clause baby, the whole thing is toast.

    And all that money spent on bribes. Sad.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cathy

    where were these people for the Massachusetts law. It is mandated in that state.

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