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. Dan

    Activist Judges.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shaun

    Awesome! I can't wait until I get taxed on my health care benefits in order to pay for those that cannot afford it. And the rest of you that receive healthcare as a benefit from your employer will also be taxed on whatever that benefit is worth.

    I think this is what we call socialism.

    I agree that a change is needed and I wish I had a good solution to share, but I do not and certainly do not agree with Obamacare.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 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 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Des Moiner

    Kill the individual mandate and keep the rest. Amerika is the land of exceptional health care...IF you can afford it. If not, the corporate fat cats don't care, just keep punching out those widgets. Voiding the whole act elimninates the good provisions and gets us back to the days when profit driven miscreants make decisions about your health. Yeah, those lifetime maximums and pre-existing condition denials certainly do sound like a good thing.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    Insurance is a state requirement, not a federal government requirement. All powers not reserved to the federal government belong to the states.

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

      Here here, thanks for speaking the truth

      January 31, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Confused

    I may be young and naive, but why is it that certain states can require health care, but the federal government can't?

    January 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Aaron

    The only way for this bill to be successful is to force people to buy insurance. If people are not paying into the system, then Obama will have no leverage over the insurance companies whom he is forcing to pay for individuals pre-existing conditions without those individuals paying into the system. The only individuals we should be covering for pre-existing conditions are newborns. I am sorry, but I have a hard time feeling badly for individuals who feel they do not need to buy insurance until they get sick.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sam kohen

    This judgement is BS. Does that mean the 'donut' is back, companies can reissue rescissions and restore denials for pre-existing conditions?

    If so, thank you Judge Vinson!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Maerzie

    adlfjdlfkasdf wrote: Uh, Michael Steele is no longer the RNC chairman.


    RIGHT!! Even his own party didn't like him!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John C

    The interesting thing in this debate is that the right will say and do anything to stop American success. This is not about teh government forceing you to buy insurance, when that argument is answered, they just make up something else. You T bagger frauds should be on the side of teh country, not the pupppets for the repulican party you are supporting. Today's republcians represent everythiing in Government you people claim to be upset with, yet you fight, argue and lie for the sole benefit of the Repulican party. THe country wants this reform, the republicans want power, you are being played a fool....."won't get fooled again"....??

    January 31, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. johnessj

    ha!ha no doubt the tea party nazismist taken center shot at obamacare, i wonder if u democrats going to lay down and take it or really have some courage and rage against it ? question, how can united states citizen say to egypt mubarak should not oppress his people but at the same time making law that is opperssing it own citizen here in the u.s ? what a crock LOL i dont respect tea party people.

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


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

    Besides single payer, what other option is there besides making people pay for their own health insurance? I like the idea of making people prove they can pay for their health care if they want to opt out of paying for their health insurance.

    In the current system, people without health insurance who need health care do what? Aren't their choices to get sick and die or just not pay their bills? Neither choice SHOULD be an option!

    Of course, there's no EASY answer, but certainly there has to be an answer, and the longer we put it off, the more likely it is that my insurance will drop me the moment I really need insurance. They have tried to do it before, and I don't have any chronic problems.

    This is just stupid.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob


    January 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JRC

    Can you guy please already with the "socialist" crap. Most of you people that disagree with everything this government acts upon are nothing but a bunch of terrible hypocritical sore losers from the 2008 elections and you won't let it rest. Get over it. If Hilary or John McCain would have passed the same legislation that have been in talks for decades, then we would have moved on and waited patiently for it to kick in. Just wait how you change your tune if your current coverage ends and you are laid off or fired and you have whats called a pre-existing condition and your favorite healthcare provider refuses you, who do you think you will be calling on to fix it, oh, thats right, that type of stuff will never happen to you..Move on.

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