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.' "

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

    We should strike down the Senators health care. Why should my taxes pay for them? 57 million Americans can't afford health care. What a Shame.

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

    Wanted to clarify something that few here seem to understand: The insurance companies don't select the policies of your health insurance policy. Your EMPLOYER does. The insurance company simply enforces the policies your employer chooses to include in the plan. Got a problem with your coverage? Take it up with your employer. THEY dictate which policies are going to be enforced.

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

    I'm sure this will pay for itself aren't you democrats? Sarcasm.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    Isn't car insurance mandate? And don't comment that you don't need a car, unless you do not use one in the U.S. or are willing to give it up.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Erica

    What is wrong with having people buy health insurance across state lines – thus eliminating the monopoly that insurance companies have and thereby decreasing the price of health insurance? Also, with 2000 plus pages in the HCR, why not include tort reform? Even Obama has admitted in one of his 1000 speeches on reform that tort reform would help decrease costs.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Charles4Truth

    You all forget that you are forcing hospitals and doctors to treat patients no matter what it costs them. An d I am Not talking about what it costs the patient.

    You are basically asking them to give up their private practice and become Government employees.

    You have a say about your employment and you pay, why cant doctors?

    January 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Truthsociety

    Wow is this blog site misinformed. There was nothing "so called" or "a part" of about the ruling. This judge put the nails directly in the coffin. What a slanted and misguided news writer for CNN. I guess this person hasn't fully read the 2,000 pages or the referrals attached to mandate states and individuals to purchase a product. Nor the lawsuit and ruling. Too bad CNN use to be a great news network when Turner was around.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Henry

    You canot compare health care law and car insurance law because car insurance law are the states law, not federal law. Also, car insurance is to protect the victim first not the one who caused accidents.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles4Truth

      Plus, you do not have to buy car insurance just because you are a citizen and or alive.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      the government already mandates that you purchase health care through medicare and medicaid. unfortunatly you can not access those benefits unless you are elderly or poor. the government also mandates you invest in retirement through social security. all three of these programs are extremely expensive and highly popular amongst all american (D) or (R). if you are all for the government not being involved in health care, then you should be a calling for a repeal of all of these programs and championing the free market to set these prices and administer these programs. take that stance and see how much support you get.

      all you have to do is remember this protest sign from the health care debate "get your government hands off my medicare"

      January 31, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John G

    This bill/law can only work in Utopia. It's impossible to work the way liberals state.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Walker

    Let's see the government taking over the health insurance industry, auto mobile industry, student loan program, the banks, credit card business... do I need to go on with Obama's socialism?

    January 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cathy

      Walker you are such and idiot. The government is not taking over anything. Doesn't it make since to pay student loans directly to the student instead of paying for a middle man?? They saved the auto industry no thanks to GOP.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      explain how the govt is controlling the auto industy, banks, and the health care system? you cant because its untrue.

      the auto industry got a bailout from the govt. but it doesnt not control the day to day business aspects and decisions of either GM or Chrysler,. Ford took no money because they secured loans prior to the collapse.

      The banks saw new regualtions and some were taken over by the FDIC which was put in place after the depression to protect peoples monies. would you rather of had banks fail and you lost all your money?

      the new health care law uses the private insurance market as administraotr of care..... can you point the section of the law that mandates government run health care facilities and government run plans as your only option?

      you should really think before you speak..

      January 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. KDM

    One way to help the problem is anyone on welfare has to be fixed so they cant have anymore kids. I saw plenty of teabaggers, at the rallys, that were against healthcare reform but have 4-6 kids on medicare. From now on, once you recieve any assistance, you need to get fixed. If you have more kids then you lose all benifits. Second is to take away all insurance for congress and make them buy their own.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bornpoor

    Obama lawyers screwed up big time. The bill should have been drafted differently. Rather than mandating that everyone buys health insurance, the law should have imposed a health care tax on everybody and then give credit to people who had health insurance. Tax powers of Congress are beyond reproach. Congress may not have authority to force people to buy insurance but it certainly has power to tax everyone (and give out credits as needed).

    January 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cathy

    I wonder how much the insurance company paid the judge.??

    January 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    Just about everything in the medical industry is over-priced, from insurance to pharmaceuticals to hospital equipment to services. Consumers are gouged by these prices while those who set the prices profit. No one can compete by coming in with lower prices because those with power in the industry don't want their money tree to be rocked. Forcing consumers to buy insurance doesn't address this. Obama's plan – and I voted for him – does not address this key problem. And maybe he can't address it without being accused, as he's already accused, of being a socialist (as if that's necessarily a bad thing, e.g., as if Sweden is a horrible place to live). Like the late Abbie Hoffman, I'd rather see the system get worse than see consoling half-measures be put in place. When things get bad enough, maybe people will finally demand real change, change this isn't just good for the wealthy.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. winston

    Looking into the future for a heart transplant I'm really getting tired of the healthcare battle going on.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
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