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. Paul

    I don't care about healtcare in this country anymore, I am ready to retire this year at 60 and move somewhere like Canada and Europe where they have universal healthcare, taking with me my social security and 401k.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Julie Labrouste

    “The People v. Corporate America”: If, like me, you support the healthcare reform law as written, do you really think that any of these corporate drones posting comments here is ever going to agree to anything that costs any corporation even one penny of profit? If you don’t already, one day people like you will finally accept the fact that there is only one way that this fight is ever going to be resolved; either the people must subjugate big business or big business is going to subjugate you. The corporations already refer openly to you as their, “human resources”; as soon as they can get some judge, maybe the same one, to make it legal, they’re going to be calling you, “soylent green”.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Duo

    Citizens should not be bound to employers like an indenture to keep their health care. People should not have to pay unreasonably large fees to be in a health care group. Everyone should get a fair wage. Fair.. not over the top. This is what the health care reform did for us. Insurance companies do not like only getting a fair share. Democracy is about each person having a vote, having a say in their destiny. Capitalism is about getting control of the most resources you can, in whatever way you can. Socialism is about making sure we work together to make sure everyone's needs are meet, more or less. It is very likely to be democratic and socialist. Responsibility is important. Deceased people neither buy books nor carry any responsibility.

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

    A fitting end to something that was written entirely by left-wing socialists.

    One could only hope that the Legislature will have enough sense to actually READ and ANALYZE ObamaCare 2.0 before they vote on it next time.

    The only parts they need to keep are the insurance regulations on pre-existing conditions, portability, and cost fairness no matter whether the "customer" is a corporation buying 100,000 policies or an individual buying a single policy. That would be ZERO cost to the taxpayers in general/

    But of course even then, the risk pool would change, so the policy costs would still go up – Eliminating the pre-existing conditions exclusion would mean that someone could run out and buy a policy as soon as they got sick, then drop it afterwards. So, there will still have to be some sort of limitation on pre-existing conditions.

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

    I think most of us are in agreement that the comparisons to auto insurance are not viable. You don't technically NEED to drive a car (of course going without one in most of America is a real PITA, but it's certainly possible), so if you don't want to buy car insurance, you can get around it by not owning a car. Abstract arguments about assisted suicide aside, the same is can't be said for being alive.

    However there are other reasons that health care insurance should be mandated. Opponents of mandated health care live in this fantasy world where the people they don't know or care about just die and disappear as a result of their own bad life decisions. Fortunately this is not the case. When someone irresponsibly sits on their couch and eats ho-hos all day without ever exercising and has a heart attack and their little girl calls 911 to save them, uninsured or not, that person is going to receive life saving treatment when the ambulance arrives. And I challenge any American citizen with a soul to maintain their "individual responsibility" arguments while a little girl is pleading for their daddy's life.

    Obviously it's not "right" that the rest of the responsible citizens of the country pay for that (inordinately expensive) treatment, but it is reality. People in need will not be denied treatment, and again, this is a good thing. It is what makes us is what makes us civilized. And most people who oppose mandated health care would still choose to save a husband, a mother, a child's life even if they had to help pay for it. Shame on you if you would not.

    This is a challenging issue to say the least...but arguing to just cut off the country's "dead weight" and let them live or die with their own poor choices is only realistic in a blog.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ThatGuy

    It was only a matter of time before somebody jumped in and reminded the gov't that its job is to protect us from each to save us from ourselves.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ThatGuy

    One of you yuppies go to a VA hospital and see gov't health care in all it's glory.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      My brother-in-law saw how the VA screws people firsthand – He had to hire one of those TV lawyers to sue the VA for treatment and Social Securiy for disability after his stroke. Believe it or not, the TV lawyer not only suceeded, but his fees were paid for by the government so my brother-in-law didn't pay a penny out of pocket.

      Makes no sense to me either – our tax dollars at work financing TV lawyers. How is this different from private insurance? If they don't live up to their policy, you have to sue them too.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • stop the obamazombies

      You are exactly right.

      February 1, 2011 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. highlandergirl

    I don't have insurance because I've had kidney stones off & on for several yrs & that's a pre-existing condition. If I'm sick, I go to my Dr. and pay her up front; same with my urologist. If I made less money & qualified for Medicaid they wouldn't refuse to pay if I had a kidney stone again because they don't disqualify based on pre-existing conditions. I have a sister who has Medicaid for her & her kids. Every time they have a cold she goes to the ER instead of making an appointment with their PCP's. This is why health insurance & hospital costs are so incredibly high. I don't mind the thought of purchasing health ins if it's affordable and will cover everything for me. Why does she get free health care at my tax costs & get to mis-use the ER as her personal physician? Not fair.

    January 31, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James

    A rotten piece of Legislation anyway–Just irritates the C*@p out of me every time I think about it.

    January 31, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. onlyslightlyamused

    It's too too bad. All these people applauding this decison....there are none so blind as those who will not see. President Obama is trying to do something for Americans. He knows that not too far in the future most of us won't be able to afford health coverage. Corporations will no longer use any of their profits to pay for it because they will have shifted most of their labor costs overseas. Big Pharma will just keep on raising prices because you'll all have chronic conditions that require ongoing medication. And when they want more profits, they'll just make up ailments for their doctors to prescribe a pill for. He was trying to make if affordable. Yes, he could not get everything he wanted oin the bill, but that is not for lack of trying. You all listened to the tea party scream socialism when most of the people screaming could not spell it, let alone define it. America will get exactly what it deserves.

    January 31, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TLew25

    Hey Skully and any other idiot who believes that people who don't have health insurance are deadbeats or are ill prepared needs to get their heads out of the sand. Many people don't have health insurance because they have lost their jobs and can't afford Cobra. It is enough to try to pay your mortgage by dipping into your savings and collecting the small paycheck for unemployment. Forcing people to buy health insurance when they can't pay their mortgage is insane. Oh great, so I will have health insurance but I'll be living on the sidewalk. The Obama Plan is a joke!

    January 31, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Travis

    Sweet! Now my fate is out of the hands of the Government, and back into the hands of greedy insurance companies where it belongs!

    January 31, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tam

    Who s this judge? His background? Associates? I'm sure he and his family have the best insurance.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. gober

    I cant for this new world order system to take place. All should have health coverage.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jorkin Spooger

    This is the most hysterical musical of all. The only other more musical thing I can think of is maybe income tax. Now you watch all of this. It gives the Federal courts legitimacy. Thats the only reason they do something like this. The whole thing was a farce to begin with a lot of people saw through it. The Federal courts are not legitimate. Look if you ever get tagged for not paying income tax. If they try to get you to go to an Federal court just don't show up. They won't bother you if they do call a local cop. They will escort them off of your property. If they refuse to go they will toss them in jail.

    This is nothing but a Federal game before tax time to make it all look legit.

    Take a look at Fox news web page. The Congress is thinking about appropriating billions for airport construction. Last time I looked it was the cities that built the airports. In all reality its the airlines. Now the Federal government claims its going to employ over 90,000 people to build airports. THE FEDERAL GOVENMENT DOES NOT BUILD AIRPORTS PEOPLE. Another words look for their bs. They are always appropriating. Billons. Dosent mean its spent. Think about it maybe one dink federal courthouse in your major city not much else. What do they spend all of this on parks? Think about it.

    The Federal courts actually have jurisdiction out of a certain state. If they did not have that they would have nothing. Never ever go to a Federal Court ignore them. They have no force of law except out of that state. If you walk into that Federal court your walking into that particular states court. The only thing that gives that state any clout is the fact they have extraditon that is waived in all states. Another words they can whisk you off without anyones say so. This insurance crap just adds to their pony show. Ignore it.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
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