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. Maerzie

    Oh no, Jason! Nobody here goes without health care. They just get it free right now while all us suckers get THEIR bills added to our insurance premiums or our insurance benefits from our jobs so we get paid less!

    That's why the cheapskates who get their free care, and the health care corporations, who are lavishing in their outrageous rip-off profits and exclusive "rules", are the ONLY ONES who want it struck down. They LIKE it that all that money can still be sucked out of the honorable people who pay for everyone's care besides their own.

    The only ones who DON'T get health care here now are the ones who have "pre-existing conditions" (which is getting to be almost ALL of us) because THEN the health care corporations would have to pay out some of their billions of dollars of profits. It's actually quite a nice set-up for ALL the health care corporations and their shareholders. WHY do you think the Republican party of the wealthy (and the gullible, wannabe wealthy) has made a deal with the health care/insurance companies to get RID of our new plan that is more fair to all??

    January 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RedStateHate

    Activist republican judge. You should hear Fox news, I've been watching: "law is dead", "rationing", "sky-rocketing costs", blah blah blah.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim Ditz

      I'm sure the coverage being done there is far superior than this websites attempt to bury the story.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tall Ed

    The system was broken, and the people with insurance were subsidizing those without insurance. Think about it, how many people go to the emergency room for treatment, and then skip-out on the bill. So people who did have insurance were over billed to make-up for the short fall. So then in turn the insurance companies jacked-up their rates because they had to foot the bill for inflated prices.

    Another problem was that the insurance companies would kick people off their insurance once they became unprofitable or they jacked-up their rates so high most people couldn’t afford their rates or small business would get rid of their insurance all together.

    Now the whole point of insurance is that we pool expenses and so we spread the risk. If people in good health were skipping insurance then they were also shrinking the pools to only people who people who were higher risk.

    Now people say that Tort Reform will fix everything. Many states have tried that, but their insurance rates are not much lower. I don’t think Tort Reform is a bad idea, but it’s not the silver bullet that will fix the whole problem.

    Buying across state lines…. Ok that is a horrible idea. Can you imagine, so what happens when 1 state decides it wants to be the insurance state, so they deregulate, they place in law tort reforms that protect insurance companies from liability that might not exist in your home state. It becomes a race to the bottom. Then who do you think the Legislature will care about more, you some guy who works and lives out of state, or the Healthcare company that pumps money into the economy, they donate to their reelection fund? So when all of the insurance companies move to one state and you cannot get health insurance from a company in your home state. So your healthcare profits aren’t staying in your home state instead they are being shipped out of the state. State Tax Revenues will go down, as will the state and counties ability to provide services.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • coffegirl

      Exactly Tall Ed! Health Insurance will be just like Credit Card Companies all running out of New Jersey – The only state, many years ago that had the most lax laws...

      I'm not sure who decides what is a right and what is not, but when you pay taxes and they tell you it is for the roads and the protection of our country, I think the health of the American People is not too much to ask to be considered a Right – I earn my way and work everyday!

      February 1, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. John G

    No surprise here just COMMON SENSE.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dtboy

    1. An insurance company role is to mitigate your risk. You have no right to transfer 100% of your risk to them (outflow) at a government-reduced premium (inflow). It goes against economic laws and will put them out of business.
    2. You buy car insurance (liability specifically) to cover the cost of the OTHER driver if you hit them, NOT yourself.
    3. There's no "right" to Healhcare. Making is a Right fundamentally changes the definition of a right and a privilege. Just because it's right, doesn't make it a Right.
    4. If you don't like what's being charged, don't buy it. Stop demanding that government force companies to provide us a product, while at the same time paying the rates WE want, rather than what the company sets.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      If the Insurance companies weren't monopolies and the normal Joe could shop around for insurance than this might apply but it doesn't. Insurance companies have gone unchecked for so long that there is no longer a functional free market involved. I'm a Ph.D. and can't "shop" for insurance. I have to take what my employer offers and at this current time in the economy there are few who can shop for a new employer.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • coffegirl

      and your very comment suggests that I opt out of my insurance because I feel paying $450 a month is too much (which I do) to make a point...Yet when my husband of child gets sick you can bet I'll be begging for the Gov't to help me out, just like you would do...Stop talking out of both sides of your mouth...We are all stuck in this Ferris wheel of healthcare disaster...Change has to start somewhere, even if it is on the wrong foot!

      February 1, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      @Jim- You are plain wrong- on many many levels. Insurance companies exist to make a profit, not to provide free goods and services. Furthermore, if the insurance industry has 'gone unchecked' for so long, can you please explain to me how it is that the Industry is routinely considered by objective observers (ie not CNN Blog commentators) to be one of the most extensively regulated industries in the US? Hmmm?.... Each State regulates the insurance market. Each State requires compliance not only with state and federal law, but also a myriad of regulations that cover everything- from proper licensing for agents, brokers, and companies, to acceptable business practices, to acceptable claims procedures, etc. You speak of exceptions to the rule instead of the rule.

      February 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Just a Guy

    Let's gut the goverrnment and go back to the days when:

    * there was no EPA, OSHA, FDA, FEMA and the air was not fit to breath and the water was not safe to drink and 6 year-old kids work 12 hour days and if a disaster struck, well too bad you're on your own and hundreds of workers died each and every day because of unsafe working conditions. Do a little exercise, look up a description of the building of the Hoover Dam and see how many workers died during the construction of that dam and then realize that the contractors were paid huge bonuses because they finished early. Is that what we need to go back to? Is that what our "Nanny State" protects all of us from?

    * Companies could literally own their employees and force them to take wages in what ever form the company wanted, forced workers to live in company housing, shop at company stores, put their savings in company banks.

    * Retailers could and did sell unsafe products with impunity.

    * No one could vote except for landed white men.

    * Hundreds of thousands of people died every year of simple ailments, malnutrition, expousure and just bad medical care.

    The list is endless. And Hell, let's just bring back slavery. Where do you stop rolling back the advances made in this country in the name of "Smaller" government? Where do you, yes you, want the line drawn?

    January 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Were almost there already.

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

      come on Guy, at least take the examples from just one century. What does health care reform and child labor laws have to do with each other. Another over the top analysts from the too tired left. Of course we won't go back to all those bad times. Why do you feel that this is the signal for the end of the American civilization or at least its tied to offering health insurance to all citizens.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LS

    Where did this judge come from? If he is correct, how can the government mandate that I have car insurance? Why can the government mandate that I pay Social Security? The new health care bill is great for America. I know hard working farmers who currently can't afford health insurance and are glad about the new bill. These, too, are hard working, small farmers. Wake up America, its not the uninsured who are knocking the health care bill. Those who are against it, either have health insurance or they are too stupid to realize they need it.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cathy

      They should expand Medicare

      January 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      the government doesn't mandate you have auto insurance, auto insurance only if you drive a car. I know if you think about it just a second then you will see the difference. It is a bit different then saying hey you breath you must buy this product (now health ins), tomorrow hey your fat, you must buy a gym membership or hey you watch tv you must buy this tv (from my brother in-law). See how this is a slippery slope. Now if the states were to try and implement something its possible they could.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SinglePayerIsTheOnlyWay

    A Single Payer system is the only system that will allow us to negotiate better health care prices with providers period. The health care lobbyists already know this. That's why they spend millions of dollars to brainwash people to hate a single payer system.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Agree, No one should be able to profit off of suffering. There is a conflict of interest.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      Not true, how about graduating 200% more doctors then we currently do. You know the medical field restricts the number of medical doctors that are allowed to graduate each year. I say do what lawyers have done. Open up the floodgates let them out. The providers price will certainly drop. Now thats just one idea

      January 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GL

    Other word government public option or just put more people in Medicare like we were going to do until turn coat Lieberman straight it down. I am so glad to see this turn coat leaving. Thank you Judge for opening the doors for a public option or putting more people in Medicare with is a all ready government run plan. How you Tea Baggers like that one.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mikie

    The untold truth is the bill does nothing to lower the costs of healthcare, it only dictates a method to pay for it while the costs continue to rise. The glossy eyed Obamabots don't grasp the problem of spending $900 Billion to save $200 Billion over the next 10 years that's based on the individual mandated investment. How blind can you be?

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

      As opposed the the Wars that were supposed to "pay for themselves"? only difference is we get something out of a healthcare bill.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Not All Docs Play Golf

    It's really a shame that all of our peer industrialized nations have come up with variable solutions that, in the end, provide at least basic health care access to all their citizens....and these are NOT socialist countries. Shame on us for not being able to do so even though we spend a higher % of GDP on health care. The skyrocketing costs historically took off with the advent of the for-profit hospitals and systems such as HCA (Bill Frist's family's company), and Humana, both models of for-profit health care that caused pricing to soar in the name of shareholder interests. Remember the $8.00 band-aid on the itemized, unbundled bills? Thank Humana and HCA for starting that upward spiral. Now they filter megabuck's through a money-laundering front called the U.S. Chamber of Commerce into a negative, scary ad campaign against health insurance reform that makes it sound like it's coming from the business community at large. It's coming from Humana, et al.

    If you want to know who is "coming between you and your doctor, " don't look to the boogey-man government, as this attack campaign would have you believe. It is the Wall Street pinstipes that are "rationing" care according to profit/loss rather than patient interest. The government is not the devil in this deal. Listen to the ever-present Humana ads with a healthy degree of skepticism. Privatization of Medicare, as Mike Pence et al are now advocating, would be a horrible step in the wrong direction for seniors. Seniors have just been lied to so much by the opponents of reform that they themselve are confused as to what is the truth. But remember, "a lie can be halfway around the world before the truth even gets it's shoes on". And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is making sure of that head start.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikie

      OK, then fix the real problem...don't legislate a way to just pay for it.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob Gibeling

    This sounds like an "activist" judge to me. Why don't the Republicans denounce him like they do rulings that make life better for individual Americans instead of big corporate interests?

    January 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cathy

    All the red states could care less that you guys have health care. Funny Florida has their hands out for federal dollars for the poor to treat them in hospitals .

    January 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Elitist

    Never has a President done more to take FREEDOM from Americans, then Obama. Never has a Group of leaders been so clueless and leaning towards Socialism/Communism. Americans should have seen this coming when the man was backed by radical groups, but mainstream refused to ask the correct questions or report FACTS.
    Never has so many been promised something for nothing by a President. Shame on the media and those that voted for Obama.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Demo's

    The problem with this bill is it was crafted withfiscal irresposibility. America can't afford to loose its social class structure or all you will have is the rich and the below middle class and poor group. The below middle class and poor group will not be able to pay the tax increase, cost of living increase, and this health care bill. Our standard of living across the board will take a nose dive. Health care in America needs to be changed but when right now American families are struggling to keep up with the Jones and this health care bill will put them in default, foreclosure, and bankruptcy. When this happens to the middle and poor class, it makes the rich middle class or worst and nobody wins.

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