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. libnosis

    If government officials: congressmen, senators, governors, judges etc. were forced to have the same health care, insurance, retirement etc as the rest of us, I suspect the systems would be vastly different from what they are today.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hippy bob

      All federal employees get same benefits and health care, and trust me that is not much.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Smokey's Mom

    I can't wait until I no longer have to pay for car insurance either!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Csi

    Guessing the judge was a Republican

    January 31, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wguthrie

    Not severable? That's probably the most severable part of the law. The judge is nuts.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Michee

    Let me start by saying race has NOTHING to do with this. Choice has everything to do with this. I am for the reform but forcing it upon people is not fair. To equate car insurance with this reform is clearly off tthe mark. I own three cars by choice if I don't carry insurance my license is revoked. If I CHOOSE not to pay the fine then my license stays suspended therefore I have to CHOOSE an alternate way to get around. If I get caught driving I'm jailed and forced to pay rather I drive or not. If u CHOOSE not to get health insurance and find yourself sick then u should then and only then should u be forced to buy if u can't pay your bill in full at time of service.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe Fasanella

    Wow, it is 2011 and people are still playing the race card. People hello. Martin Luther King was a republican. What has Barack done for minorities? Nothing.... Repealing don't ask don't tell was the biggest mistake ever. I am pro-gay and a social moderate but the military never wanted it. People will be hurt over this horrible policy. If you look at the State of the Union a week ago not one admiral or general clapped when Obama brought up don't ask don't tell.....

    January 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Foe Jasanella

      First of all dude, MLK was not a Republican. You are an idiot. Second, the Generals and Admirals don't clap during the State of the Union. Just like the Supreme Court Justices don't clap. So once again, you are an idiot. But hey man.. enjoy getting on the internet and making stuff up!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Umm.. I'm sure you can google an article posted here around a month ago where it was like 76% of the military did support the repeal. Just because you have some redneck buddy in the military who is afraid of gay people doesn't mean the entire military is. Get a clue.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • stop the obamazombies

      You are absolutely correct. The repeal of DADT is a tragedy that will have dire consequences and unspeakable,confused havoc wreaking consequences. I also observed that no military clapped. An absolutely,horrific perversion of social engineering that has and will continue to make America the laughing stock of the world. More political correctness gone mad or as we call it leftist forced suicide on the People of America.

      February 1, 2011 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. Max

    You lose, libs. America wins.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. G

    The only reason why this is different than Social Security is there are private companies involved. It's simply that. Now I am not happy with the mandate and would like to see it go away, it needs to be replaced with either a Single Payer system or a requirement that all insurance companies and their devisions be true non-profits and not some sort of non-profit front to a for profit company.

    The Mandate was a system proposed by the Republicans during the Clinton Era as a means to try to compromise with the Insurance Companies. Today they are running away from it and leaving it on Obama's doorstep. He introduced it (naively) thinking the Republicans would go for it. All they did is take a giant step to the right and move the "compromise line".

    I am not a fan of the Health care reform as I don't think it goes far enough to cover enough people or save enough money. Since health care will be the biggest part of the Federal Budget (Medicare) I think it's urgent to at least have something to help slow down the ballooning budget. Like the president said, if the Republicans & Tea Party have something they think will work better, let's hear it, simply saying something is bad without offering a genuine different solution is useless. Putting hundreds of billions extra on the deficit out of spite is simply ludicrous.

    If the Republicans want to be taken seriously about their pledge to not increase the budget, all their exceptions need to be removed and everything must be on the table, EVERYTHING.

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

      So I take it that you think the Democrates did a great job on the healthcare behind closed doors? Let's face it both parties are to blame for many things but this healthcare bill is not one of them! First and foremost this country should have Term limits on all parts of the House and Senate! As for me I am a Republican and I know in my heart that President Bush did more for this couontry then Obama will ever think of doing, but remember when Bush wanted to change healthcare it was blocked by the Demorcarts and never happened. I know the Republicans blocked Hillery care but that was the same as Obama care. The government has to get out of bed with the pharmaceutical companies then that will be a start.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      In my state, HMOs already have to be non-profits. Go look up their financial statements and see if costs per person are going up more slowly than anywhere else - Medica, HealthPartners, BCBS of MN. I'll save you the trouble - they're not.

      When medical costs are 80-85% of premiums, the math on the source of cost increases should be pretty clear. Want to get rid of the 15-20% insurance companies take for administrative costs and profits? Great. Let's assume everything the insurance companies now do can be done for free by the government. How long before we're back where we started when underlying medical costs keeps going up at 8%? I'll do the math for you - 2 to 2.5 years. So your big single payer option bought us 2.5 years. I'll get back to you in 2013 to see where we go from there.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Let me begin by stating I am firmly in support of genuine, productive healthcare reform unfortunately I find that the current legislation is likely a step backward.

      In order to effectively cure our ailing healthcare system, or for that matter any problem, it is critical that its specific problems are first determined. I find the following are Major current problems
      1) most people in the us 85% are covered thru their employer in “groups” which precludes choosing based on ones own needs
      2) Insurers are selling a product which by its very nature will be forced to payout at some point in ones life unless they can drop you if you get sick (similar to what happens if you get to many tickets or accidents in your car)
      3) There are insufficient young healthy individuals to counter the huge cost of older more infirm individuals (I.E. Medicare becoming insolvent)
      4) There is a major shortage of Dr.’s already increasing the eligible population without first educating new providers is foolish
      5) Many persons cannot afford to buy coverage they need
      6) Third parties (insurance companies) should not be involved at all if we wish to provide equitable, quality care to all Americans
      7) Do to Medicare law a physician who participates in Medicare cannot without acting fraudulently agree with any consumer to accept less then his/her standard rate despite the fact that he can and in fact must do so in order to accept either Medicare or ”private” insurance
      The current plan as it is written fixes none of these issues and actual adds a few
      1) requires insurers to pay for care with no limits or exclusions (which would be like your auto insurance company having to insure a car which was already totaled)
      2) illegally requires U.S. citizens to buy a product (as well as specifying what that product will contain and how much it will cost)
      3) there will be cuts as to what Medicare will cover (which is already woefully less then market value for many services)
      4) The IRS has been tasked with collecting a fine for “failure to insure” which is well beyond the scope of their authority to TAX

      In my opinion many if not most of this country’s citizens feel we need some type of change to make healthcare affordable yet also realize that the current legislation is not the answer. I feel that one of 2 approaches should be used either
      1) Everyone should receive government coverage equivalent to that which senators, presidents, and house members recive which would be paid for by unilateral tax increases. I think this would be a real “game changer” since our representatives would not only share the cost but also be directly affected by any decisions made about our healthcare on our behalf.
      2) A smaller unilateral tax could be employed to provide coverage for the “uninsurable” (similar to many states high risk auto insurance pools)

      I provide 2 as a stopgap measure only since in order to provide the highest level of care to all socio-economic groups a FAIR single payer system is mandatory.
      Further no matter what plan we wish to employ we must provide incentive for additional providers to become trained (cutting pay scales and increasing red tape are disincentives) .
      Finally we need to eliminate the third party insurers whom have nothing positive to contribute to health (physical or mental).

      Just me,

      Mark D. Adams

      February 1, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jesse

    We Americans deserve what we get. While we are MORE interested in sports, having a good time, trying to make a killing per hour for labor the rest of the world is getting ahead. It is a shame the mess this country is in because no one cares UNTIL they get hit in the pocketbook! Captialism use to work in America but no longer. When Main St. was wiped off the map back in the 90's that opened the flood gate for any BIG company and GOVT. to do as they well please. Americans are at the mercy of the clowns we have in Washington (including all the federal judges as well). My brother moved to China nearly 5 years ago and NOW has a better quality of living than I do here in Illinois. The illegals, welfare bums, corporations, etc. have milked the US economy dry and it is no longer efficent to keep this country going. We are headed for another Greece, Spain, Egypt, etc. because Obama has put the death nail on this country with health-care reform that will only serve to put us in a deep hole even further. Social Security you only pay into if you work so not everyone pays but with this policy you pay regardless..hmmm..democracy...dictatorship is more like it!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JacklynD

    Your rates go up every year while the insurance companies' profits are in the billions upon of billions of dollars. Insurance company profits are derived from gouging you and our businesses and refusing coverage every chance they get. As a business they contribute absolutely nothing to our health care industry except mountains of paperwork, and they do not fund research, build new hospitals, train doctors or nurses. All they do is put themselves between you and your health care providers and vacuum up money. Oh and spend billions convincing people like you that they are a good thing.

    Laugh fool because that is exactly what those of you celebrating are. Think Soylent Green. They'll be offering that to you next.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • sumday

      you talk about the profits insurance companies make, but when was the last time you heard a hospital not make a profit?? Insurance is a distractor in healthcare and really have absolutely nothing to do with what the hospitals charge, health insurance is a gamble that you will take in more than you pay out- Hospitals and drug companies set the cost of healthcare- passing any bill that does not address hospitals or drug companies is a useless bill. Why r we forced to buy from a company that has zeor say in what the cost will be? this bill just makes me think the gov can force me to buy anything they want even if it doesn't address what they say it will.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rockytony

    Part? Please report this decision accurately.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Allen

    Article with much fuller and balanced detail:

    January 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gambino

    I'm sorry, your treatment has been declined, and END OF LIFE consultant will contact you via email. Have a nice day!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Elitist

    Everything about Obamacare was a lie. It does not bring down costs. It will not reduce the deficit. It is the end of the democrats.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dano

      Ya your name speaks for itself!!! Think about how many democrats died for this country and how many doctors, teachers, etc.. are democrats. They are Americans who love this country too! So the next time you say thats the end of the democrats just think for 1 second that you are referring to a very large population in the USA

      January 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dano

    Why can't we have two healthcare systems in the US? One for Republicans and one for Democrats? There was a reason "no" healthcare bill has passed in this country for over 40 years. If we can't have two separate Healthcare systems, I say we repeal this one to shut everyone up and just live the rest of our lives like the idiots we are and not pass anything. The next candidate that even mentions "Healthcare" will not have my vote!!!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
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