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. Condor

    My question is: what is the difference between the health insurance mandate and requiring everyone to participate (buy-in) to social security and medicare. We all ultimately reap the benefits. I don't hear anyone complaining and saying they don't want social security benefits or Medicare benefits. In fact it is just the opposite – Americans don't want those programs touched (and by the way most were against those programs when first passed).

    January 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wallster

    I've been mandated to pay into social security since I started working and now I might be able to get it when
    I was told i would qualified.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nell

    I am quite sure all Americans want affordable health insurance. To all the people who state they do not want to pay for others, who do you think you're fooling. Threw taxes, whether property, state or federal, you are already paying. thinking in a positive manner. American people do not seem to be listening either, in a few years we will be a third world country.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Asia

    The saddest part of this issue is that MOST of the people who are happy about the judge's ruling knows VERY WELL that it is WRONG – the President just stated he would work with Republican's and anyone else to correct/admend the healthcare bill...BUT NO, that isn't the goal of the GOP...the goal is to make sure OBAMA fails...they are breaks my heart to witness the hatefulness of many human souls....they must live sad and depressing lives (deep down inside)....because misery loves company....and to see so many miserable people is just heartbreaking....never in all my life have I witness such selfishness....they know dang well that if UNINSURED people get sick they are going to the ER and in turn the hard working Americans who can't catch a break will pay for their medical bills....I'm sick of LAZY, HATEFUL, UNCOMPASSIONATE, IGNORANT, HYPOCRITES trying to be sheep in WOLVES are NOT fooling ANYONE.....EVERYONE sees you for who you TRULY are...the very THOUGHT of working TOGETHER has NO place in your attentions or plans...GOD sees the hearts of men and I'm sure the picture of their hearts is EXPOSED...YES WE ALL SEE the DARKNESS in YOU!!!

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

      well said.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chris

    From the posting above, I gather that the majority of people are utilizing the soundbytes that are thrown around without actually reading and analyzing the ruling. Since there is not a precedent of mandating for action instead of inaction, the lower federal court rulings advise overturning the act. The Supreme Court will then hear arguments and decide whether or not to uphold the lower court rulings. This is not a judgment against "socialism". Neither is it enslaving the patients. This is not a game of winners or losers, this is the fabric of American Democracy and History. Anyone who wants to jump on a bandwagon for whatever political misconceptions or biases they have are truly doing this great nation a disservice. Instead of calling Obama or Bush the worst President in American politics (which neither were or are, look at Grant...), really invest yourself to become educated. Although this is a meta-point and odd to post on here, reject the silver-plated analysis of CNN, FOX, MSNBC, Jon Stewart, etc. and actually think for yourself. If your response or argument can be boiled down to a campaign slogan or twitter post, you really need to read up on the issues.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Wanda

    If the mandate is against the law, then why did Bush put into law the mandate of prescription drug policy for retirees.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahmed Anassofu

      Do you read much? The medicare part D didn't mandate a citizen having to buy anything or face fines. Don't be so butthurt.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ahmed Anassofu

    Silly liberals, stupid law supported stupid people.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. KE

    There is not ONE person that dies in this country because they don't have adequate health insurance. They might go bankrupt and/or have really bad credit, but they don't die. Our health care system is one of the best in the world. You might loose a lot of your independance and your freedom if you are unfortunate enough to have a serious health condition that you can't pay for. HOWEVER, you will be taken care of in one way or another if you have the motivation to seek and ask for what you need.

    I don't see how government intervention is going to make the system ANY better. Ya know what I suggest? Limit the number of doctor visits that Medicaid and Medicare patients can have for free. Limit the options they have. If they have insurance paid for by the rest of us WORKING and contributing members of society, they they get very limited options. If they want better options, earn the money to afford better options.

    I'm sorry that people think success is somehow the luck of the draw. It isn't; success is determined by hard work, networking, intelligence, and yes some family connections. But you can overcome one or two of those easily, IF you have the drive...

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

      You cannot seriously believe that there are not people in this country that die because they do not have adequate health insurance. What cloud do you live on?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      You must be ignorant if you believe that.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      I will also add:
      Ignorance is bliss.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • DinoBob

      I also cannot take you seriously if you cannot spell "lose". I pray for your family and hope that you never have a child born with a severe health condition that is not covered and pray that you are never downsized and lose your job and benefits. It's a rude awakening when life throws you a curveball. You think all 45 million people without health insurance are ignorant, lazy bums who are not as elightened as you about how to get ahead in this world? Wow. Must be nice to be you.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cp125

    ...yea, those Floridians, they sure know how to manipulate our laws. But then again, who cares about a FL judge, he'll be overruled in no time, thank god.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cathy

    The only thing that was struck down was the mandate. Not the whole bill.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahmed Anassofu

      You should really understand a topic before posting. If you search for the legal definition of severability, you might understand that what you just posted was nonsense

      January 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Maerzie

    Why is this blog so disorganized?? It didn't USED to be like this!! There is no time or thought sequence to anything, as a 2:30 post is mxed in after a 3:45 or before a 1:30 posting.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sara N.

      I seem to be having difficulty making heads or tails out of the order of posts myself.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wawawhat

      I can't even find my posts and if I repost it says "I've already said that".

      January 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • John C


      January 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • willy

      You expect organization from the same party whose headline says that merely PARTS of the law were struck down? This outlet appears to have missed the entire story!!!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Starman2112

      Im guessing it has to do with the posters location. Who cares! Lets make fun of Tea-Baggers:

      January 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • SIlly People

      Lets keep the 1.3 billion we send to egypt for health care ... our foreign aid is out of control

      January 31, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • RV

      Why are we required/mandated to have car insurance!!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wawawhat

      @RV, although you make a good point, auto insurance requirements are not the same. I driver's license is a privilege as is owning a car. If you have neither, you are not required to carry auto insurance, If you have just a driver's license and no car, again, not required. Own a car that you drive, you'd better be covered as it is the law everywhere. The snafu here is requiring you to have a government health insurance policy if you chose not to purchase one on your own. The feds threatening to charge you "something" is supposed to incentivize you to go find something you can afford on your own. Regardless, the policies being offered by the government as well as those from private insurers amount to high premiums and ridiculously high deductibles. Having a deductible of $5,000 with these fly-by-night programs IS NOT going to prevent people from going into the Emergency Room for the sniffles, in fact they will abuse it more, driving costs up even further.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bama

    There are people without insurance who go to the ER. They do not get turned away and they do not pay for the service. You and I do. That is why the ER's are so busy. There visits are called bad debt's and that is built into your insurance premiums and that goes to the hospital's to help defray the cost of the non insured.

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

      yeah, ERs are crowded because of illegal immigrants. I was there twice last 6 month because my son broke hi leg while playing on a Sunday night.
      We are not here to pay health insurance to fund illegals have a free pass smooth visit at ER.
      wake up.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      When poor uninsured people go to the ER its paid for by state and federal dollars called Medicade, or payer of last resort. In these times of financial crisis, many states, like Arizona, are severely cutting back on state funding for this program. The hospital's only resort is to take the patient to small claims court to try and recover some of the cost of the ER. Unfortunately, the patient ended up in the ER because he/she could not treat the condition due to a lack of funds/insurance and the condition progressed to a stage where it required emergency treatment. Hospitals are required to treat the patient without regard of their ability to pay. This health care reform would provide the ability of indigent patients to aquire health care and stop putting a drain on the states. You are right. When all else fails, the cost of health care goes up to cover the cost of the uninsured and poor.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      If we had insurance for all citizens, don't you think you would have to prove your citizenship? And so your saying as long as we have illegal immigrants you won't support health care for legal citizens? This makes no sense.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xerxes 2010

      Oh no bama, you do not have to pay upfront to be taken care of, but you will be billed. A few of my friends got into a car wreck and did not have insurance, they got a ride to the emergency room via ambulance..treated and released..all without paying right....about a week later, each one gets a bill in the mail for approx $3500. The dang ambulance ride was $800 alone and they went like 1/2 a mile up the street. So you will pay or it goes to credit and then you'll be hastled til you pay it off or file bankruptsy!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Zorrgg

    Once again, CNN shows it bias by only reporting a piece of the legistation has been struck down instead of admitting the entire act is void. You just can't stand the truth can you? I guess next you'll be blaming Bush for Egypt's demonstrations.

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

      The article did say the entire act was considered void. Learn to read.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Zorrgg, you fool, the judge DID strike down the whole law based on the mandate. I think the judge is utterly wrong, and so do most other judges. At any rate, pay attention a little more before you freak out. Sorry CNN isn't an online coloring book, but most of us know how to read.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |

      Jesus Dude, did you even read the article? Maybe you need to go back to Phucks News where they have only unbiased opinions!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Okay, how about sharing your poll of all the Federal Judges that prove they support O-%^&$-care. Honestly the statements and remarks you Libs make is outragous.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Luke

    If mandating that one "buys" health insurance. Why not just say that they have to pay for medical costs up to certain limits. An individual can either buy insurance or self insure, but they must prove they can meet the limits. This does not mean that people have to buy anything. Most people would buy insurance somehow either on their own or through their employer, but some real freedom lovers always have the option to go at it on their own. The intent was to have less uninsured which we all pay for anyway without choice.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • knox6

      Luke – the intent was not to have less insured. The reason to have mandated insurance is to that all those "healthy" 20 somethings would have to pay for insurance to offset the cost of the sick and elderly usage of our health care system.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. duramax

    in what way could anybody get that im a racist from my statement? i am nowhere near being a racist, but i do hate it when people make stupidc commnts. ive already had 2 back surgeries, 1major knee surgery and surgery on my ankle. so dont tell me that i havent had a little bad luck along the way. and yes ive heard of subsidies. if you really want to complain about ag subsidies at cost around 20billion a year go ahead. i guess you dont like food at your table or clothes on your back. we spend about 360 billion a year on oil that goes to mostly enemy states, nearly everything at some level is subsidized.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • vbscript2

      Yes, the oil money goes to "mostly enemy states." Like Canada. Oh, wait.

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

      I was joking about the racist comment, I totally agree with you!

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