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. raco neilsen

    Nancy, you were All right now we see under obamacare.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Maerzie

    I guess the only way to make any sense out of this blog is to print it out and put it into time sequence yourself! These moderators must be too busy texting or surfing somewhere else.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmla5

      Yeah, they're on FOX getting the full story.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JD

    If this decision is ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court I propose the following to all you Tea Baggers and other acolytes of personal responsibility: IF you have affordable insurance available AND you choose not to enroll because you are young, healthy, rich, stubborn, etc., AND you become ill and cannot pay for medical care, THEN Congress should pass a law making you ineligible for any government funded health program for a significant period of time. You want government out of health care? Then don't come crawling to the government for health care when you have refused to take responsibility for your own coverage and truly need help.

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

      Could not agree with you more!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • J A

      You should welcome the opportunity to pay for my health bills! That's exactly what Obamacare is all about.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmla5

      Ok, that's fine. In the meantime, stay out of my pocket.

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

      JD, you think you are talking to Tea Party people (what happened to civility liberals?) but I'll bet the majority of us are responsible citizens who purchase healthcare insurance. The people without insurance are 10-15 million Illegals, 20- 30 million young people of both parties, and some poor people.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • 4freedomnow

      So, I take it that since you are opposed to acolytes of personal repsonsibility, you are an acolyte of personal irresponsibility? Well, it is refreshing to see an honest liberal.

      By the way, why is CNN trying to spin this? The ENTIRE law was struck down. Read the judge's words quoted here.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • db

      26 and have health care, paid for. Sorry, I do not want to pay for anyone elses though. How is it ok to force me to do that?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • MN

      Happy to accept your proposal. I do want government out of my healthcare – completely, permanently and irreversibly. This ruling is terrific, terrific news for the American people.

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

      Im pretty sure the healthy, rich, and stubborn are the ones who want to have their own health care. I do not think they are the ones flooding the ER's uninsured.

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

      Doesn't sound very liberal to me. and you call yourself a liberal.

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

      Amen to that!

      January 31, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    It'll be interesting to see this hit the majority-conservative Supreme Court, since they recently ruled that government can indeed force commerce for the "public good" (eminent domain).

    January 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • MM22

      chris: "It'll be interesting to see this hit the majority-conservative Supreme Court, since they recently ruled that government can indeed force commerce for the "public good" (eminent domain)."

      You do realize that the Kelo v. New London case was written by Stevens and decided by the "liberal" wing of the court, right?

      Are you so dogmatic and partisan that you have to turn, however feebly, every argument into one about conservatives and liberals?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • vbscript2

      Yeah, um, it was the liberals that upheld that one. You might try learning facts before spouting off stupid things of that nature.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      last time i checked the supreme court was 5-4 liberals. What conservative majority?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Anti-Chris

      Haha. Chris just got treated. Uh-oh, who's going to foot the bill for that procedure? Not the American people, that's for sure!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SSGT

    Name another product that the government can mandate a citizen to purchase, dont say car insurance because if you dont own a car you dont have to buy insurance. I believe that we do all need some type of health coverage. Why dont they just expand medicaid/medicare to everyone? I have insurance through my employer and this year my out of pocket has increased more then any other year, co-pays and premiums. Why? because now we are all paying for the people who dont pay, its always been this way, but why such a sharp increase. I thought this was supposed to help control costs. And explaine how a business is able to opt out of the mandatory coverage with a waiver? What is the count up to? 200+ last i checked.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam kohen

      That was the original plan, but it got bogged down in Congress

      January 31, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ITGuy

      Everything the government puchases is something you're forced to pay for without recourse. You pay in the form of income tax. You can be lofty and say you're buying scramjet missiles, but in truth you're also buying toilet paper for congressmen you hate too. Saying that the government, in doing this, has copted your money for a product for the first time is myopic at best.

      Chances are you already have health insurance, and this doesn't affect you at all.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • a health economist

      Your premiums were going up regardless of whether the bill passed. Health insurance companies spent huge bucks trying to get the bill to fail. This is money that would not have been spent otherwise. It's an expense to them. And all businesses pass added expenses off to their customers. I'm sure you experienced the exact same thing with bills such as garbage disposal, food, and heating back when oil prices spiked.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • bwl

      The government mandates that you pay into Social Security even if you are self employed

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

      Actually your premiums went up so much this year because starting next year insurance companies need to justify their rate increases. This is the last year they can raise them without limits and without reason.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      So you don't own a car? Are you willing to give it up? I get it but think that practically speaking you kind of do need a car in the good ol USA.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. billybsea

    If people don't have to have insurance, then hospitals should not be forced to treat those without coverage. How can Republicans think that having it both ways is equitable? Who do you think ends up footing the bill for the uninsured?

    January 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      The county that you live in picks up the difference. Usually one hospital in the county is sponsored by the county. People that need medical care without insurance end up in these facilities.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jordan

    @James & David-

    You are NOT forced to buy Auto or Home Insurance. End of story. The end. If you want to drive you must carry insurance... but you are not forced to drive. Even then, 25% of all drivers on the road (in Ohio anyway) do not carry insurance. They should, but they don't. You two are trying to equate the PRIVILEGE of driving to being a RIGHT to drive. Apples and Oranges... but then again, false parallels are the domain of those with inferior debate skills or even a basic understanding of the facts at hand.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Jordan you defeated your own argument. Yes, if you have a car, you have to have car insurance. Since you have health, given that you're a living being and it is reasonable to assume you will at some point be forced to get some healthcare (accident, disease, etc.), then it is fully reasonable that you should have to purchase insurance. This is compounded by the fact that Americans who do pay for insurance are ALREADY paying for those without! Then you have Medicare/Medicaid. Where do you think the money comes from, fool? It's from tax dollars. It is you who doesn't understand the facts, much less the Act itself, and your debate skills are clearly non existent as you make sweeping declarations about the comparison to car insurance without even understanding that you shot your stupid self in the foot.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Good point Jordan. It should also be noted that the auto insurance-health insurance comparison falls short in another area. We are only required to have liability insurance (that pays in the person we may harm in the accident). We are not required to carry auto insurance that would pay if we hurt ourselves. Thus, the auto-health insurance argument is about as "apples to oranges" as it gets.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • bwl

      Actuall this reply is to sean. Depending on which state you live for example, Florida you are required to carry auto insurance that would pay if we hurt ourselves. It called personal injury protection. Every driver in the State of Florida has to have it. The other insurance like liability you can reject.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • MD

      Difference is, you may never have the need to drive. Not true with healthcare. If you drive and get into an accident without insurance, you are essentially breaking the law. Any damage including liability damages, the at-fault driver is 100% responsible. Depending on the accident, you could even go to jail for not having coverage and essentially have the right to drive removed permanently.

      Unlike with healthcare, the costs of the uninsured are not passed on to tax payers or people with auto-insurance. Big difference.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      You are required to have insurance, PERIOD. You may be able to get away without it but eventually they will catch up with you. I am sure there will be some who try and get away without Health Insurance.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      And the argument that you only need liability is kind of mute. You are required to have insurance. I don't really care what it covers as it is required. Obviously you will not need liability health insurance.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      The car insurance argument is not valid. No one is forced to insure his car unless he has a lien on it, and then the lien holder is the one requiring insurance. The state only requires liability, and there's nothing equivalent to auto liability in health insurance.

      If you wreck your car and don’t have insurance, people are going to feel bad for you, but our society will feel no moral obligation to fix it or provide you with a new car. No one’s tax dollars will go to fix it, no one’s car insurance premiums will go up to fix it. Ditto for homeowner’s insurance. If your uninsured house burns down, bummer for you, but society will feel no obligation to provide you with a new one. But if you have a heart attack, our society will feel a moral obligation to ensure you get medical care, even if you can’t pay for it. This is a major reason comparisons with other forms of insurance are meaningless, because no other form of insurance pays for a product our society feels obligated to provide if you can’t afford it.

      Think this through folks.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dub1045

    There can be improvements to Health Care in America without empowering the Federal Government and creating new agencies. Why, when I buy or sell a house am I going to pay a tax to support Health Care? We really are smarter than this, aren't we?

    What 5 things do we want a Health Care System do for us?

    Who do we want to pay for it? (Everyone or the users, or who)

    Keep it simple. Get it done.....

    January 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm38

      The Real Estate Tax was only for the flippers who created the real estate bubble. Why should I have to pay a higher home price so that some parasite can speculate on the market? But that tax was stripped out anyway, so find a new talking point.

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

      Dub1045: Everyone IS a user of healthcare. Maybe not right now, but they will be. Eventually they'll get hurt or sick and need it. What then? Because the ignoramus refused to buy health insurance he should get a free pass from everyone else (i.e. taxpayers and the insured)? That's crap and you should know that. This is the reason behind the mandate, and clearly some Americans are too partisan and stupid to see it. The mandate is for EVERYONE'S benefit, save those who are already filthy rich and can afford the cream of the crop of health insurance. In selfish America, that's all that matters right? "As long as I get mine, who cares about you?" That's NOT what he country was founded on. A society has to look after itself, otherwise enjoy your feudalism.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      Dub1045: "There can be improvements to Health Care in America without empowering the Federal Government and creating new agencies."

      Only minimally. Health care markets do not operate like normal markets for consumer goods. We have a $2.4 trillion health care industry that isn't about to implement reforms that would lower health care spending (which they think of as revenues) unless the government imposes those reforms. Don't be naive.

      "Why, when I buy or sell a house am I going to pay a tax to support Health Care? We really are smarter than this, aren't we?"

      Yeah, we're so smart we have the most expensive health care in the world by a wide margin while turning in a subpar performance on a wide range of measures of health care system performance. We have lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, more premature births, more preventable deaths, fewer doctors per capita, fewer acute hospital beds, and more people foregoing a wide range of care because of cost than countries with the best universal health care systems. And that's just the beginning.

      If you call that smart, we're real geniuses.

      February 1, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. Norm38

    Fine by me, I didn't want to have to buy the insurance industry's crappy and overpriced "product" anyway. Now the uninsured will keep showing up sick and dying at the ER, and continue to drive up costs. Eventually the entire system will collapse and be replaced by the public option.

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

      And then the public option will collapse when there are no doctors to take care of you. Why would you spend 15 years studying and hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical school if the government is going to tell you how much you are allowed to make in order to keep the patients cost down?

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

      Aaron: "And then the public option will collapse when there are no doctors to take care of you. Why would you spend 15 years studying and hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical school if the government is going to tell you how much you are allowed to make in order to keep the patients cost down?"

      My apologies for injecting some reality into this conversation, but most industrialized countries, all of which have universal health care systems, have more doctors per capita than we do. We have fewer physicians per capita than most other OECD countries: 2.43 per 1,000 population versus an OECD average of 3.1. Austria, Belgium, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway all spend at least a third less of GDP on health than the U.S. yet have almost four doctors per 1,000 population.

      You might want to consider doing your homework on these issues before trying arguments that contradict the data.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. wallster

    The healthcare insurance providers stand to multiply their customer base by quite a bit with this law, this they like. Having to insure sick people and spend 85% of the premium on their patients health care... not so much.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Other Ways

    Let's face it, most saw this coming. Obama had a pretty good idea with reforming health care, but this "law" was never going to get off the ground. I do agree that hard work alone isn't enough; sometimes, you get sick or get hurt and these greedy insurance companies will drop you faster than a hot potatoe when it does happen. Do we need to change that? YES. But mandating the indivudual to purchase something (anything) is not the way to go. I am aware that a lot of people don't think the government has the right to tell anyone what to do, but we need to realize that, eventually, we will have to do exactly that. The only choice we have to make is whether it is the individual or the companies. By that I mean the insurance providers, the pharmaceutical companies etc. Honestly, no other country is so expensive in premiums and medication as the US. We don't have to tell them how to run their business, but Obama could simply cap what they can charge. Frankly, I am uncertain why that has not been done yet.

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

      The Inclusion of the 'mandate" in "'The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act' "
      Was (what the Insurance lobbyists Required through) the Congressional negotiating process as a final major component demanded by the GOP block in order for the Bill to finally pass. Yes it was supposed to Expand the revenue base for Rx companies And Med-insurers alike bu approximately 10 Million citizens. NOTE: Pres. Obama did not encourage 'manated care' – but Did pursue expansion of citizenry covered, and restrictions on "dropping or denying" those who unfortunately incurred a costly medical situation!! I Clearly remember the 'talk about' teh Dems / Obama – "Selling-Out" to the Lobbyists (Rx & Insurance Companies!) at the time the PPAC Act was Passed! Go ahead – Google that!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      ConfusedBoutDaFactsRU: You are mistaken. The mandate is necessary to keep people from abusing the system if insurance companies can't deny people for pre-existing conditions. Without the mandate people will just wait until they need insurance to buy it, which will cause premiums to go up for people and (mostly) businesses that maintain coverage all the time.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. Margot707

    I people eventually realize that there should be no mandate to buy insurance without a public option to go along with it. I don't like the idea of being forced to subsidize big bonuses for the health insurance executives who have been ripping off the US public for decades. I'd rather pay into a non-profit or government program which exists only to serve its members, not rip them off.

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

      I'm sure the government always does what is best for the public and not the officials in office... *roll*

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

    I get it now, it is responsible and legal to require insurance on your car but not your body.

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

      You're not required to have insurance for your car. You're required to have insurance for the damage your car may do to others (liability). You also get to drive your car on government provided roads, and theoretically you can choose not to drive.

      So to me the analogy between car insurance and health insurance is pretty weak.

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

      Riddel – who requires you to have insurance for your auto?? If you don't own the car outright it is your bank, who is the owner of the vehicle until you pay it off. If you own it, you are required by law in most states only to carry LIABILITY INSURANCE in case you hurt somebody or damage THEIR property (car). You are not forced to carry collision insurance on your vehicle/property if you don't want to.

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

    Since theres alot of people crabbing and saying "great, i do not want to be forced to purchase something anyway"...can any of you please sound the same trumpet about car's essentially the same idea, I am forced to pay for something I do not want to pay for, but I have to because if I get caught by the police driving without it I get fined or if I get into an accident without it I am going to be in the poor house if its my fault and it serious. Thats the same idea behind this law,so rally the conservatives Ya'll...... first you can take down a health care law that for the most part makes sense, then you can get rid of car insurance and if we follow your same train of thought we can all live happily ever after....according to you at least. Or heres an idea.....the system is broke and everyone aknowledges it, so come up with some ideas to bring to the table and figure something out together for a change instead of making politics a team sport and saying what will keep the fundraising dollars coming in and saying all of your partys talking points like sheep puppets. I hope I live to see the day there is not a dominate 2 party system. Democrats and Republicans both suck.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. steve

    This current healthcare bill needs to be revamped. It was done behind closed doors in the first place without transparency. Didn't Obama say he would let C-Span air the arguments in the first place? Not!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim Fitz

      Read the bill if you can. Moron.

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

      The right wing red necks that are in big business pockets because they want to evade paying there fair share have had almost 24 years to submit and pass a solution to this growing problem. Of course they did not because they are un educated and dupes.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB-Houston

      I find it ironic that the right side of the aisle tried to stop the health care bill and didn't offer any input. Then they cried that they were shut-out of the process. Now they want to repeal the bill (or kill it in court) because they have all kinds of better ideas. My answer to that is "yeah, right. Where have you been for the last 25 years, the insurance industry's pocket?"

      January 31, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim Ditz

      "Un educated". Brilliant! You're a fool, Fitz.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
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