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. Loooser

    Maybe if everyone was responsible for their own health care expenses people would live more responsibily and take better care of themselves, which would reduce healthcare expense altogether and force insurance companies out of business. Stupid libtards wrote this law. It should be repealed.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Glen

    Everyone is required to buy medical insurance for when they are elderly (Medicare), and retirement insurance (to fund your likely non-working years).

    Purchasing medical insurance for earlier than 60+ is no different (except for not having a single payer public option like Medicare is).

    January 31, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ferguson

    Cool. I'm going to stop paying my car insurance.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kevin

    ironic that the older, less healthy americans who stand to benefit the most from a mandate are the ones against it.

    how often do you see 20-somethings raising helk about this program? young people are the ones who will have to buy health insurance and not need to use it. my employer and i pay $12000 in premiums, and my wife and i only use about $3000 for medical expenses each year. we young people are the ones making this insurance system work, no different than social security, etc. (it's just the opposite with car insurance though...)

    January 31, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Elitist

    I never thought I'd say "Thank you" to a judge! Thank you.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    When we all have insurance maybe people will stop going to the ER for preventable illness. No more people at the ER for the Flu or a cold. Personally I can't wait.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. R. John

    My Simple Solution: Remove the individual mandate to buy health insurance. Replace it with an EMTALA tax. (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act). This is the law that requires emergency rooms to see anyone who enters their doors and requires ambulances to bring sore throat "victims" to the ER, etc. Since we ALL benefit from this law, it should cost something. However, if you have health insurance your EMTALA tax is $0 (since you are not getting a free ride). Of course the poor would have medicaid and not be affected (medicaid is broken too, call around see if you can find a private Dr or Hospital that accepts it) The bottom line is responsibility. Just because you have the freedom to be irresponsible doesn't mean your neighbors (Tax payers of the United States) have to subsidize every bad decision.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tom

    just a waist of tax payers money.....when the real problem is the drs healthcare industries...they all got there money in the congress pockets...we need a social healthcare system...bc y should one person pay more for others...why should the middle class pay for the poor and old or the ppl
    with out....y should anybody get denied for the pursuit of happyness

    January 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jer

    headlines today...the Czec republic is in negotions with physicians who will leave the country in mass if they don't get more pay for their services. Remember when you think the govt should strong arm care providers that these talented people do require pay...and many of them in this country refuse medicare patients now. Another many other countries the quality of your care depends on the pay you give providers under the table....

    January 31, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Slammy

    One the leading arguments against Health Care reform is people are afraid they will lose options. I'm curious, does anyone have a private health care plan where you can choose any Dr. and hospital? I'm supposed to have one of the best Blue Cross policies they offer and there are still Dr.'s it doesn't cover. It seems to me that private health care companies are already doing what people fear the government will do.
    What is also alarming, being a cancer survivor who was cured at MD Anderson, some of the top Cancer Orthopedist their, who are some of the best in the nation, are dropping health care reimbursement from private insurance due to the insurance companies failure to pay or their delaying. These Dr.'s are accepting cash only, which only the wealthiest can afford. Given that their clientele are the wealthiest, some from overseas, I guess they are not worried about business. But what's the point of having private health care if Dr.'s don't want to accept it?

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

    Americans you are all the same sht get real and stop writing stupidities you have nothing better to do your presidents have spent trillions on wars against our people for no reason but you still have to pay if you dont have insurance that is so wrong but dont worry our beloved brother Osama will take care of you the same as you did to us

    January 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ken

    Gov't isn't the answer. They are a system and systems are made to be "worked". They only chance the gov't would have of making things better is if they took over everything related to healthcare. Providers, hospitals, pharmaceuticals etc.

    However, one thing I haven't seen is malpractice reform. Several of my doctors have retired early or left Maryland because of out of control malpractice insurance. This country is too sue happy.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Walker

    when did the liberal drones come up with this car insurance meme?

    January 31, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anne

    What is insane is an insurence company that would call a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis a "pre-existing condition" so I am stuck paying the costs for my neurologist. What is even worse is that now I must rely on medicaid to pay my expenses. Medicaid has cut what they will cover as well. So a year ago I signed "Do not rescitate forms-DNR" after a social worker said it was people like myself (chronically ill) that drain the system.
    How can a country that reportedly cares so much for its people stand back while so many are left to die for illnesses that are treatable? How can a country that sends billions of dollars of foreign aide to others allow its own citizens to die or starve or go homeless? To live in pain or depression for drugs that cost less then those gifts you send overseas?
    The desparity of health care is not are only problem. The costs are not are only problem. Its our priorities that are the problem.

    I watch as America waves the flag and cheers when there is an election or when they come together in a crisis, yet their homeless veterens sit just a few feet away ignored for the most part. I hear the rage over those that die needlessly because someone froze or starved to death in their own home, or maybe because of mental illness they killed themselves or someone else, you talk about it. Demand that something be done. But weeks later you forget until the next cycle of grief visits. These questions, these examples and truths anger me to no end.

    Our government, those elected to look after our interests are good at talking but seldom deliver. Its not that most of us don't care. Its that we don't learn. Attention deficit is curable.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duo


      Don't sign DNR forms just because some social worker was uneducated. Stay. Live. Live long enough and there will be a cure.

      January 31, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cassy81

      God Bless you! And I pray that something will happen with this bill that benefits you/me and everyone else. you're right, our priorities are flawed.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. Lindsay

    Neither party is ever going to understand this bill or the bills to come in the future regarding healthcare. If the politicians truly want to know what the American people are thinking and feeling then they need to see how private health insurance works and not their government, social healthcare. I'm in healthcare. I see people having to turn away because they can't afford the increasing costs. Private insurance companies will only keep increasing deductables, premiums and co-pays covering less and less until something is done about it. Why as a nation can we not help and support our own yet run to the aide of many other countries? Do politicians not see the homeless on the streets, the kids going to school without the appropriate clothes on, the elderly cutting medications in half or not taking them cause they can't afford it? I'm not saying I know the answer or any one person in particular knows the answer but we are NEVER going to get there if we don't listen to each other and work together; which I'm not so optimistic about seeing as it means more to say one is a Republican, Democrat or Independent instead of being for the people. Politics is politics and it's never going to change, unfortunately. We are going to be debating and arguing about the same thing next presidental term. It's a cycle and history repeats itself.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
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