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. mike

    Either your rich or don't pay taxes if you agree with this ruling. You talk about something for free....without Obamacare that's exactly what you get!who do you think pays for those millions of people and billions of dollars in debt do to emergency room visits and hospital stays from Americans who don't have insurance its time for individuals to do what they can to protect themselves.wake up America!!!!

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

    Medicare and Auto insurance are required purchases by our government. The GOP forced this provision, which they are now contesting because they claimed that insurance carriers could not afford reform without it. Any GOP who no opposes this a lying through their teeth by now objecting to it. It's what we've come to expect from the GOP – Dishonesty!

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

      your right medicare is required and guess what that program is goin bust! If the gov can't run that program with it being mandatory I have little faith they can run this program effectively. Also auto insurance is ONLY required IF you drive. I know several who use the subway, and a few who have DUI's and they are not required to have insurance- see they have a choice- this bill doesn't give anyone a choice.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lodgirl

    is pelosi going to fly in again?

    January 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. postedbygeorge

    Sometimes it is necessary for employers to bypass inept employees. In this case the people of the United States need to bypass the inept (Democratics, Republicans, etc.,) squabbling lawmakers we employ and create our own Health Care bill. Each employer needs to read the whole complete bill that is in effect, analise, evaluate and make necessay changes. After each employer finishes, then discussion with other employers can be used to arrive at a consensus. After the consensus is reached, then the changes to the bill can be put on line, where other employers have posted their own changes. Employers then can vote for the changes we approve. After the initial voting, the top 5-10 changes in each section of the bill can be re-posted. Then the evaluation and necessary changes or merging of the poposed changes can take place and re-posted for voting. The top 2-3 changes in each section of the bill can be re-posted for a final vote. The final voting needs to total at least 30 million for each section. The final changes in each section with the most votes will then be inserted into the bill. The final bill will then be given to our employees. If our employees do not accept our bill, then that employee not voting for our bill will need to be recalled. We as employers have choices, we can be good employers and show our employees what they need to do or we can be as inept as our employees and do "nading".

    January 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John G

    Next stop SCOTUS. Odds are 5-4 Obamacare struck down

    January 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Zaggs

    Here is an idea. Lower the medicare age, raise the earning limit on Medicaid and permanently ditch the Doc Fix. Divert tax money from companies who make over 13% profit (kiss my butt Google) to the Medi programs. Cover kids till 23, and give a window for all pre-existing conditions must be covered. After this the only people left uncovered should be by choice. When they try to get insurance after they get sick, they get it, but at catastrophic rates.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matt

    It all comes down to lossers and winners. Managed Care reduces Doctor's salaries and increases the amount of people insured. If there is no managed care Doctor's salaries go up and amount of insured poeple decrease. Ten years ago managed care cost $5,000. It cost now about $15,000. God knows what it will cost 10 years from now. Sooner or later we have to get cost under control. I think that most americans want to wait until cost goes so much that they want gov intervention. Remember when we did not have to pay surcharges for plane tickets for airline security? We as a society are more reactive than proactive.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sumday

    People need to realize that insurance is not health care! The bill your hospital sends you that is the cost of health care and although insurance may help you pay for some of that bill insurance in itself is totally separate from healthcare (they have nothing to do with what the hospital charges). Hospitals set the price of your bill and drug companies set the price of prescription drugs- Even if everyone had insurance there is absolutely nothing in this bill that makes the hospitals/drug companies pass any savings on to you! In fact the only thing this bill does is ensure hospitals get paid and drug companies sell more prescriptions. It would be much better if the gov mandated what a hospital/drug company can charge rather than forcing everyone to buy insurance. The cost of healthcare comes directly from the hospitals/drug companies passing any bill that does not address hospitals or drug companies is a waste and complete failure.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • KatR

      You're missing the point. Health care costs are high because there are so many citizens, w/o insurance, who need care. In order to keep their doors open hospitals need to charge more for those citizens who do have insurance. I do agree that the inflated costs of prescription drugs needs to be dealt with. But with a corrupt FDA being a part of those drug prices it's going to be a sticky process. I personally feel that a ban on prescription drug advertising, like the previous ad bans for tobacco, would go a long way towards alleviating the patient who tries to convince their doctor they need some drug advertised on the tube.

      February 1, 2011 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. John G

    If you like the Canadian health care system them MOVE THERE!

    January 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hippy bob

    For everyone that is saying its the republicans that held up the bill you have to remember 26 states voted against it thats more than half the country. Not all those states a mostly republican some of them are democrat. Also to you people who think it is so great think of canada where people need to wait months for operations a government controlled health care industry isnt all that good. People in those countries sometimes have to fill out paperwork before life or death operations. We should be thankful for what we have. That is all of us from both sides of the political spectrum. ObamaCare has heard criticism from alot of places, so do not blame eachother blame the man in charge. God bless America. Also for all of you who want Obama out of office the main republican nominee is Sara Palin.. do you want a hick in office?

    January 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Regis from Florida

    republicans are the biggest hypocrites. I hope you never have kids with type 1 diabetes or some serious diseases to see the reality of life with your simplistic moronic view. Helping the poor and the needed is definitely not a Christian republican value… tax breaks to the richest is. Hypocrites and parasites.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |

      Last time i looked Pelosi , Read , Obama , Schummer and many more were multi millionares (like many Reps.) but because there Dems. they look out for you , get real thats like saying MSNBC is not biased , and only FOX is .

      January 31, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      the difference is typically the dems who are rich dont have a problem with programs like the health care bill and paying higher taxes to help out the middle & lower class. hence when the dems wanted to let the bush tax cuts expire, which meant that they would be paying higher taxes then they currently were. it was repubs who cried bloody murder and claimed that the top 2% of earners are all the job makers and would stop hiring. hmmmm i dont think all lawyers, professional athletes, doctors actually create jobs. same is true with health care, you dont heard about dems complaining about having to purchase health care, because they already do.

      January 31, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steph

    What amazes me is that the same people who don't want people to have free healthcare I don't see them saying anything or taking these hospital's to court for giving people who don't have either a job or any healthcare at all getting treatment. Who do yout think pays for hospital treatments, doctors visits, ER services for those who don't have healthcare? Really think about, who is the one paying for it? Yeah the hospital will help those people who don't have healthcare, but they don't write it off all they do is bill the state. They show the state that they have cared for these many people and we didn't get paid for it and in turns the state pays for the healthcare. That's why there is so much uproar in AZ. The people there got tired of taking care either illegial immigrants (but there children are born here so the kids are citizens) or those who have no healthcare because the cost was going back to the citizens of AZ. Ultimately the citizens of AZ have to pay for it because it comes out of there taxes. Some states will say that they have a deficiet of a billion dollars+. How much of that is healthcare? We have over 9 million people out of jobs, don't you think they get sick and if they go to the hospital they will be seen and in turn the citizens of that state will be the ones to pay for it. Not the Hospital. I do believe everyone should have healthcare, and if you choose not to take the goverments insurance then they should have a clause to where if you have insurance you will need to show proof of coverage for declining there insurance and if you can't show proof you will be given insurance. Europe has free healthcare, but only for there citizens. Everyone has there beliefs, but these so called Christians really suprise me because doesn't the bible say "help thy neighbor"? You cant pick and choose what you want out of the bible it's either all or nothing ladies and gent's and if your going to pick and choose then you can't call your self a true Christian. That's just like someone calling themselves a vegian but still eat meat on Tuesdays. Don't make sense.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brent

    I know its harsh, but as a canadian, I would rather pay 15% HST then I would [pay 40,000 for surgery or what not. Heres an example, I run a liqour/grocery store, (liqour stores where i live are a government entinity, and thus go into paying for things such as health care, roads etc.) a 24 of beer costs 40 bucks canadian, i heard stories of the same thing costing 20 in the states. Its a rough pill to swallow, but taxes and controlling high profit items such as liqour etc. can go a long way...and sorry if i am out in left field, im not a whiz when it comes to economy and operations of united states.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SF

    Regardless of your feelings, the government does not have the right to tell you to buy a product or service. Period. Don't bring up car insurance. You don't have to drive a car. On another note, ER's should reject people that have a cold or flu. Send them to an adjoining clinic with much lower rates. There is a lot of waste in the ER because people go there who don't need to.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      O really so who compels everyone to purchase car insurance?

      January 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Linda in Los Angeles

    Insurance – B.C., Canada: have friends up there. The lady noticed a lump and had to wait a few months for a gynecological exam. Doc found acknowledged the lump. She was put on another waiting list (3-4 months) for a test on the lump. Lump tested: another few months wait for surgery. Yes, it may depend where you live, but the point is clear. Many do not get equal care no matter what. I live in LA. In the past, especially with Kaiser, had to wait a couple of months to see my primary care doc. The insurance I now have – have to wait weeks to see a doc if not an emergency. There are not enough docs or nurses to accomodate all. Those on medicare are finding that out now in a most personal way. Here is my solution to the health care problem:
    close down insurance companies
    close down HMO's
    let docs pool together to create not for profit health care offices like we had in the good old days (which some docs are beginning to do and unfortunately, with Obamacare, takes even more docs out of the available pool for HMO's)
    people themselves can form their own co-ops to pay for care for all. Many Christians already do this.
    if folks can't pay, sign them up for state or govt help.

    It is the for profit insurance companies and HMO's that are killing health care for all. And it will not stop until you stop them. Cost of care will continue to rise unabated. Obamacare simply requires all of us who get a paycheck to pay a huge percentage of said money into a for profit system to pay for care for all. It makes Obama and congress look good since they threw these crumbs to those with children and pre-conditions etc: but it is NOT what is best for this country. They need to blow up the system that is in place and go back to what worked 60 years ago. When things like this are socialized, it creates emnity between those who have and those who directly depend upon those who have. I would also like to point out that when their is a lack of money or docs or nurses, etc, it automatically creates a death board. Because people will be turned down for care since there are not enough resources to go around. Healthcare is becoming a bottomless pit as we keep digging ourselves further into the ground with inefficient, for profit, wasteful, feel-good but limited resources directives that do absolutely nothing to turn this train wreck around.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43