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. Walker

    suck it, libs

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

      Got to find it first.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Daddieo

    The people and corporations who want the health care bill out have these things in common,
    1. can afford to pay for it.and have a good policy that someone else pays for
    2.have no serious preconditions
    3. have lots of money invested in insurance companys .
    4.are the same bunch who helped send millions of our good paying manufacturing jobs overseas
    5.dont realize that most people that dont have health insurance cant afford it so a penalty for not having it will mean we will have insurance but will be in hospital for starvation or malnutrition related issues.
    The simple truth is a lot of us will never be able to afford insurance or health care no matter what laws congress passes McDonalds and Wal Mart do not and never will pay enough and have too many part time employees that are not eligible for company provided insurance. How did you fools think they got so huge??By treating all their employees decent and giving them good pay??

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

      They got so huge by providing a product that people want. They got so huge by providing jobs to literally millions of people currently and over the years. If your sole aspiration in life is to work at WalMart or McDonald's, then that says more about you and your skill set than it does about some evil-corporate boogey-man that you paint with such broad brush strokes. It is kinda sad and wholly ridiculous that every argument made by some people about the ills we face as a society begin and end with corporate malfeasance. I suppose you think happy-meals make your kids fat because of the toy, right?

      February 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. GL

    However, the ruling came with some good news for the Obama administration. Vinson ruled that Congress has the power to expand the Medicaid program to cover individuals whose incomes are at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

    I guest you Tea Bagges didn't catch this part of the ruling. He is for putting more people in a already govenment run program which is Medicaid program. If it was not for turn coat Liebermman getting in the way of plan in the beginning we would be okay.

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

    Yet another GOP Activist judge....

    January 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Harold Anderson

    Wow, what is wrong with that judge. This country desperately needs an affordable healthcare system. Obama's system is much better than anything in place.

    To those who appose Obama's healthcare proposal. Do some research, it will benifit everybody in the country having a health country. We have to take care of our people in the United States.

    It seems as though this Florida judge wants to keep our current Cave Man – Dog eat Dog MAD MAX type Health Care system.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Starman2112

    Who cares? We know every Tea-Bagger federal Judge is going to strike it down. Happened a few times now. Guys trying to make a name for himself as an activist judge. Lets all wait for the supreme court. Until then, lets make fun of the Tea-Baggers...

    January 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. W.W.J.D.?

    Is the bill perfect…….no
    Could it have been….maybe not because our elected officials can’t work together.
    I’ll say this once and I’m willing to bet my last dollar that you will remember this post. None of you are republicans or democrats. They don’t exist. This entire blog serves as proof that the powers that be agenda is working flawlessly. Dumb down the population while the machine keeps churning. It sickens me to see such blatant racism, sarcasm, and condescending garbage being spewed by some of you. Look we live in a capitalistic society. That means you have a winner and a loser. Three years ago the bankers and rich won. We (the entire American population especially the middle class) lost and it was done by both parties. You see when anything benefits the special interest groups and the lobbyist who pay these guy/gals top dollar in campaign contributions they can seem to work together. Remember too big to fail. We must demand them to work for the greater good for the country. I consider myself a moderate and can see points from both sides. To me no one is completely liberal or conservative. They really don’t exist and if someone says they are you should be weary of them because I can assure that MF’er is a liar. You just can’t agree with your party on all the issues…..YOU JUST CAN’T. As far as health care, are you not paying for it now? Instead of being a bit(h and arguing either because you didn’t do it or in my opinion playing their role and fix it and make it better. That would be the American thing to do. See everyone want to snub the poor but do you realize you’re paying for them anyway. Repeal it and you still pay. I love this country but people really need to wake up! How many of you that don’t want this bill are Christians? W.W.J.D.?
    And the Oscar goes to: Your elected official!

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

      I think you misunderstand the objections most conservatives, at least moderate ones have. The language of the mandate is a big deal because of the precedence it sets for congress...if they can mandate a private individual buy something from a private business this drastically expands the commerce clause powers. I'm a christian, and I desperately want to help the poor. However, I fear what's going to happen is by expanding medicaid and not increasing doc payments fewer docs will serve the poor, even if they are "insured" – 30-40% won't take it now. You create a two tier system, which I agree we already have in another form. But I don't believe the structure of this bill is sustainable. We must have tort reform to bring down costs, we must subsidize the poor, but this bill gives a 90% subsidy to those earning $88,000 a year. Now in NY/NJ/CT a family of 4 living on 88K is a tough thing, in Alabama, Mississippi, GA, etc, something different. This has been tried with the same results in mulitple states, as designed it failed. Maine didn't insure nearly the # projected. TennCare killed the budget and they threw people off the roles. Massachusettes the Democratic Treasurer ran against the governor and called it a fiscal train wreck, and insurers are fighting in court against price controls which would force them to issue policies below their costs. Hawaii had program for "uninsured" kids, and had to close it because parents providing insurance for their kids dropped it to get the gov't free coverage instead. 5 states already have guaranteed issue (no being turned down pre-existing), the states can do it.
      I want to see exchanges, the end of the employer coverage and their tax-benefit which damaged the individual market by making it too small, individual health spending accts (which employers can contribute to if they wish, employees get pre-tax contributions, self-employed get deduction, and the gov't can contribute to for poor) and everyone buys policy of their choice. Subsidies yes, for those at poverty level, 2x poverty level yes, even a 50% subsidy at 3x the poverty level...but not 90% at 88K. That will bankrupt our nation, which already has debt at 98.5% of GDP. If the program isn't fiscally sustainable it won't help the poor in the long run.
      Bill also makes secretary of health and human services and HHS in general way too powerful.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. GL

    However, the ruling came with some good news for the Obama administration. Vinson ruled that Congress has the power to expand the Medicaid program to cover individuals whose incomes are at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

    Why is CNN not report that the Judge is for placing more people in MEDICAID PROGRAMS?

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

      Because that would have been too easy. That is what they should have proposed from the beginning instead of this monster bill.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fred u

    No doubt a Right Wing Republican Judge!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Elitist

    If the health care law is so great why has Obama already exempted over 729 organizations that are allies of his? If it is so great why are those very people who fought for HCR the ones who are first in line clamouring for exemptions?

    January 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jean2009

    The logical order of posts on this website is disorganized to say the list.
    Everyone purchases Social Security Medicare A&B and that is required through FICA the Federal Insurance Contribution Act, seniors purchase their secondary insurance from other sources, and Part D Drug benefit is withheld from their Social Security Payment. This judge must have his head so far up his right-wing conservative backside that he can't see daylight.

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

    for all of you against this and the Government keeping their nose out of your healthcare, would you please not get enrolled in the "government" plan called MEDICARE? You people are such fools.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Harold Anderson

    This judge is a complete idiot!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John G

    Democrats obviously want the country to fail.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Walker

    "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."

    Hey liberal drone there is no silver bullet. Who said that? I mean it could deter perhaps a few of the 15 million lawsuits filed against hospitals per year (which the CBO didn't include in their savings "estimate") but let's not get into that.

    I love it when you leftist koolaid chuggers will do anything to avoid saving costs to protect your voter base (in this case trial lawyers).


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