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. jrm

    Let's don't mistake a conservative justice taking a conservative view of commerce for the decision that will come down when this gets looked at by the SCOTUS.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jay

    That's awesome. Aw Right! Now insurance companies can continue to cherrypick and make billions and kids with cancer can get rejected again. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

    Wait, you mean there is something morally reprehensible about that?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • I_Vote

      Seems they raised tobacco taxes to provide poor kids with health insurance. I have worked with poor people all my life and have yet to find anyone that can't get insurance whether through the Federal Government or through a private plan. I did have a friend with cancer that couldn't get insurance until as a very last resort she went to the Government. They provided her with Medicaid although I will say she had to swallow quite a bit of pride in the process. Wait! maybe that was what the Democrats were trying to do...... If everyone gets their insurance from the Fed then there would be no shame in taking public assistance. Go Figure. Now who would be ashamed of taking WELFARE from the Government? Me for one.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. I_Vote

    Step One Complete. Next Stop: The US Supreme Court. Then let's move on and dismantle the rest of the Socialist agenda, return to a Capitalist society, end the need for Welfare and dismantle that, do way with the Department of Education and return local control to the schools. After that let's do away with giving Federal tax dollars to failing cities and their welfare minded citizens.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evelyn

      YEAH! Let's all be Neanderthals!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      I am a college student and I totally agree with what you are saying. Why should I pay thousands of dollars to go to school to get a degree so that I can pay to keep people who are to lazy to work on welfare? I might as well just not do anything and live off the regimes dime. I should just let the hard working Americans pay for everything for me. I WILL NOT DO THAT. I am getting a college degree so that I do not have to live off of the regime. I will work hard to provide for my family and I should not have to pay for the health insurance of people to lazy to get off their sorry butts and work to get a job to pay for it themselves. The government has no right to tell the states what they need to make us buy or not buy. Good bye capitalism and hello COMMUNISM. This is exactly what a communist government is based on, thanks Obama now why don't you go make yourself the Stalin of the US.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • kevin p

      john, keep studying and stop watching fox news. your inexperience and narrow world view really comes through in your post.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      John – When you get out of school and stop living off your parents dime and live in reality, we'll see if you agree with the GOP policies. After all, you may be stuck with all that student loan debt (if daddy and mommy didn't pay for school for you) and no job. And when you do finallly get a job, what happens when the economy goes south and you lose that job? I think you should stay in school a while, because here in the real world – there are no gaurantees that anyone will care about you. And if your sick and they repeal the health care law, then you know what – you have to pay your own way. I know it must suck knowing you'll have less to spend on that Ambercrobie sweater, but in the real world there IS unforseeable consequences for which you will actually get to live through.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff

    Well done! It is about time that the silent majority uses the courts the same way the vocal minority has been using them for decades.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. goodemoney

    We force people to buy car insurance, so what's the difference? Everybody knows this is going to wind up in U.S. Supreme Court, so all this cheering is like celebrating at halftime of a football game.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Bad analogy, as we don't force people to drive...

      January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is not forcing you to buy car insurance. That is mandated by the states, they are free to do so.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • KK

      If you don't know the difference, then you shouldn't be qualified to vote. Hint: 10th Amendment, Hint two: Federal and State.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      exactly right. It is not a necessity to own a car. That is why it can be taken away from you and then there is no need for the insurance for that car. Health Care is the same way if people don't want to buy it let that be there choice....basically if you don't buy it it's like playing with fire. You may get burned some day and not have it when you need it. It's your choice and the federal governement should not make you take care of yourself it should be your own choice.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. K Edwards

    Those activist judges. Oh that's right when you are Republican its not "activist".

    January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PJparker

    This is no surprise. A judge in Florida(R), appointed by the Republican Party, ruled on the health care bill, which was brought to court by the entire GOP.

    Who's a thunk it!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tino

    I would hardly call this list NOTHING. Probably more substantial gains than occurred in the eight years preceding it.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kingjamesd3

    so many people hate obama mainly because he is black

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Hmmm. I believe something l ike 97 percent of blacks voted for Obama. They must be racist against whites, as they did not vote for a white person. Either that, or perhaps people could be for or against someone and/or something based on their POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      95% of Blacks voted for Kerry, what's your point?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • KK

      Yes, they these racists are repealing the 13 Amendment next. How much do you like cotton?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tony

    Suck it, Obama.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Magpie

    Yeah, just why did the Massachusetts health care reform package just get a free slide and then its national cousin get it in the back of the neck! This is worth researching.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mass

      The Massachusetts plan (AKA RomneyCare) gets a free pass from the propaganda because a Republican came up with it.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike

    it goes to show you ,republicans can and do buy what they want.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not a Yes Man

      I'm a Democrat that voted for Obungles, but if this Fla. ruling is what it takes to pull the jacket over Obungle's unruly head, then more power to the Republicans...Obungles even got this Rahm Emmanual putz back on the ballot in Chicago, by pulling a shenigan that is unlawful by rules on the books in Cook County, Illinois.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      Yes Man – Sorry, you are no Democrat. Independent, maybe, but calling our President names....sorry, you are no dem.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nuclearoption

    Most uninsured americans arent uninsured because they dont want to pay for health care. They are uninsured because its not available. Any uninsured parent who refuses to pay for government health-care for their children SHOULD be penalized.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Professor

    Haven't you people ever heard of appellate courts?? Rest assured that the decision will be overturned. The Florida judge's opinion is significantly flawed in its reasoning.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DemocratinNY

    Why are you so against healthcare for all? Do you believe that people with pre-existing conditions should not get coverage? We all have to pay for car insurance if we own a vehicle and drive it. I cannot understand why on earth, people are wishing others to have no coverage?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Runner

      There are a lot of healthy, but poor, people who will only be worse off under a mandate system since they'll be paying a significant part of their income and getting nothing back.

      A lot of people here seem to be under the delusion that if you have health insurance, you don't have to pay for routine doctor's visits or prescription drugs or lab work. But, most people in the lower income ranges can only afford insurance that pays a small portion of these costs. If they are forced to pay for health insurance, they'll be poorer and STILL have to pay for the medical care they actually need.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
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