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.' "

FULL STORY

Filed under: Health • Health care reform • Politics • Supreme Court
soundoff (1,747 Responses)
  1. JAYDC

    I agree with the Obama Administration and its Health Care Overhaul. However, I do not agree with making people pay for anything. You should not force people to purchase things. If Joe the plumber wants to die of lung cancer because he does not want to dish out part of his salary for health insurance then he should have that right...be it foolish or not. We cannot continue to save stupid Conservatives from themselves. Let them be free to be idiots if the tea party so chooses.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Carroll E. Gant, JR.

    Why don't all these white republicans who don't want and call the Health Care Law (obamacare) prevent them from joining the Health Care Law? Make them pay full price and find the services and plans their self, not as a huge group with more power to deal and lower price and better service. Like what the Congress and the U.S. Government has now for it's workers with choice of service and plan for need.

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

      The federal government is self insured,even in the health care law that will not change. The government pays all the bills for the congress and the employees. Just another example of do as I say not as I do.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      steve: "The federal government is self insured,even in the health care law that will not change. The government pays all the bills for the congress and the employees."

      This is not true. Federal employees, including members of Congress, use the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The FEHBP purchases insurance through private insurers.

      Geez, doesn't anyone understand anything about health care in America? At least half of what I see posted here has no connection to reality. This is why the debate over health care has gone nowhere for two years: it's mostly based on myth and misconception because so few people are willing to take the time to study anything.

      "Just another example of do as I say not as I do."

      Just another example of someone posting a comment on the web about something he doesn't understand.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. cp125

    Oh those poor, poor insurance companies, having to raise their rates because people get sick.

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

    I have been waiting months for my daughter to be added back on to my insurance and she was Jan 24. I cannot afford to carry two separate health insurance policies on my teacher's salary. In accordance Eric Cantor's desire to stop the "war on success", my daughter's boss pays her $11 an hour with no health insurance for 40 hours a week. Eric would be pleased to know that the boss has a great house and my daughter seems to be helping with his successful business. Lately, I think that the new generation won't be happy until no one has any benefits – state/fed employees, unions etc or health care except the rich. We use to have a middle class and I think that is going away.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe Fasanella

    Insurance companies are business's. Telling someone they must cover preexisting conditions is like buying a car with a blown motor and wanting it covered under the warranty... Does not work. Look at Mass. They have 3-4 month waiting time to see specialists. WE ALL WANT REFORM. Rich and poor, republican and democrat... Not one person is willing to make the tough decisions, we can't help the poor with 10,000,000 illegals coming over the border every 12 months.

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

      Joe Fasanella: "Insurance companies are business's. Telling someone they must cover preexisting conditions is like buying a car with a blown motor and wanting it covered under the warranty"

      That's why the mandate is necessary.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. shaun

    If the mandate is over turned there should be a push to overturn EMTALA, the law requiring that everyone get treated in the ER. I know it sound cold not to treat everyone who come to ER but EMTALA has taken away the market forces needed to convince people to get insurance .

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

      shaun: "If the mandate is over turned there should be a push to overturn EMTALA, the law requiring that everyone get treated in the ER. I know it sound cold not to treat everyone who come to ER but EMTALA has taken away the market forces needed to convince people to get insurance."

      First of all, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986 doesn't require hospitals to treat everyone, only people with emergency medical conditions and women in active labor. Hospitals routinely treat non-emergency conditions, but it is by their choice, not because the law requires it.

      The notion that we should start forcing people to die if they don't have insurance and can't afford to pay for care so others will be more motivated to buy insurance is barbaric. It's also naive. People who don't buy insurance usually convince themselves they won't need it, and that won't change just because someone else needed it.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tim Fitz

    It seams as though the very people that do not want this are the same ones that do not want gun control or any other control . If they want to live in a country where everyone can do what they want without any government interference. I would suggest moving to Chad or the Congo and see what you get or better yet live in Northern Mexico a couple of years. Health care is costing tax payers a quarter of every dollar spent right now with out any bills. So wake up red necks. We already have government Health Care and we the people that are really paying our taxes are paying for it. Not you tax evading un educated morons.

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

      Redneck Is an awful, racist term. I'm very offended.

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

      Tim, I'm going to save the name calling until the end. What has the government ever done successfully? Uh, that's right, pretty much nothing. If you want your/our gov't to tell you what to do, I can do a better job, get a brain. They take your money, spend it foolishly (notice the mounting debt we're under), and then try to do whatever it takes to stay in their seat of power. So we rednecks (oh, and by the way it's 'seems' not 'seams' (<- that is for clothing) like to control ourselves instead of having someone else tell us what to do. If you're looking for a collective bunch of elected officials to do the right thing, you're looking at the wrong gov't.

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

      "Un educated" Count: 2.

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

      DontNeedNoGubment: "What has the government ever done successfully?"

      Lots of things. The vast majority of government works quite well. You just don't notice *because* it works well. You only notice the problems, and based on your comments even then I doubt you understand the real causes of the problems.

      Tens of thousands of flights take place daily in the skies over America without incident because the FAA mandates maintenance schedules and airworthiness inspections. All those planes manage to fly in and out of airports without incident because of FAA's air traffic control system.

      Electrical codes prevent hundreds, if not thousands of home fires annually that would be caused by cheap wiring and shortcuts taken to save money. Our air is relatively safe to breath, our water safe to drink and swim in, and our food safe to eat because of government regulations. Our children are not an exploited labor source because of child labor laws.

      Workers suffer a fraction of the injuries and deaths they would without OSHA. Just compare the number of coal mining fatalities here and in China, for example.

      Who protects your right to free speech? Government courts. Who runs the patent office? Government.

      I could give you pages of examples of government working quite well, so thanks for asking.

      "Uh, that's right, pretty much nothing. If you want your/our gov't to tell you what to do, I can do a better job, get a brain."

      If you don't want government, move to Somalia. They have no functioning government. Be sure to let us know how you like it.

      It's pretty obvious it's you who needs to get a brain. Or get a new one, one that isn't constipated from consuming so much right-wing anti-government propaganda.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Maerzie

    I know, the people in Canada LOVE their health care. I was talking with a bunch of Canadian guys at the Packer- Cowboy game last month, and they had nothing but good to say about it.

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

    This is great news. Can anyone tell me how much lower my health insurance premiums will be next year. I need the money back bad. The last 10 years or so has seen my insurance go from being fully employer paid, with low co-pays and 10 dollar perscriptions, to me shelling out 293 every two weeks and my co-pays are more than twice as much with 45 dollar perscriptions now. Lucky for me next will have to be cheaper now, right?

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

      Well, James, rates were projected to rise under Obamacare. After all, you and me have to pay for all the uninsured, as well as "children" under the age of 26.

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

      Jeff, I know. That's why I'm so excited. Now my rates will go back down, right?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ZONADOC

    Emoting social liberals crying because someone takes away their free stuff, what is new about that? Old folks are having a hard time getting a doctor because Medicare does not pay beans for the services provided. This health care debacle would have killed good health care for all. Some of the bigger investor owned operations wanted this bill because they know it would have driven the mom and pop doc operations out of business into their conglomerates.

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

    most every state in the union has upheld laws for years that require people to purchase automobile insurance, or else face stiff charges. so basically what conservatives are saying: "its ok for government to force people to repair any damage they might cause to my mercedes, but if you are sick and/or suffering i will watch you die without remorse." fantastic. keep up the good work.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. J A

    You have the option of driving a car (or not driving) – so insurance is optional.

    Obamacare is required if you're breathing – a much different standard than auto insurance.

    And everyone who disagrees with the president is NOT a racist. But saying all whites who disagree with BO are racists is, by definition, stereotyping and thus racist. Talk about the pot calling the kettle.......nevermind, I don't want to be called racist if I finish the old saying.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steven Brown

    My solution is to leave the for-profit insurance companies out of health care. Instead, let clinics provide health maintenance and treatment services on a subscription or membership basis. That would encourage preventive medicine, and it would distribute the costs of health care, so that serious illness does not incur ruinous costs to the patient.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. IrishFox729

    Proudcat said it best. It is difficult for me to listen to the politicians going back and forth on health care reform when they have the best insurance in the nation.

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

    I have not read a single comment that makes a logical argument for one side of the other. You Liberals attack Republicans and call them racist, ignorant, selfish or un-Christian. The Democrats here try to make some form of logical argument, but get attacked by the right-wing idiots and the liberal ignorants. The Conservatives attack liberal and group everyone as one and are just as ignorant as the liberals, and Republicans cannot make a logical argument because they get accused as liberals by the far right and selfish un-Americans by the far left. I would say that off all the comments on here 98% are just as ignorant as the people you attack and are just as dangerous to this society as the people you attack. You should do this country a favor, and if you cannot have a reasonable discussion with someone who believes something you don't and your only reaction is to slander them and berate them, then don't vote. You only hurt this country and continue the political problems in this nation.

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