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. Barbara

    Did someone say something about "horse sense", pragmatism? Wouldn't it be better to have a government paid apprenticeship program where people got paid for learning a skill with which to earn a living, while at the same time, buying groceries, paying the mortgage, making the car payment, pays his/her taxes so that a lot of the money comes right back into the community and helps it grow while it helps a member or members of the community grow. I know, its practical and makes good sense so that is for sure not going to get a second look.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Sounds like socialism to me.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cleveland Tom

      Barb, your thinking was tried and it didn't turn out so well. Remember the Soviet Union? It is called Communism.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Genius

    What conservatives fail to realize is that "Obamacare" was the least socialist possible method of addressing healthcare. What do you want? Do you want the federal government to take over drug manufacturing and insurance companies? Do you want it to take over hospitals and for doctors' paycheck to be from the US treasury? Because that's where we're heading if this law gets struck down. This law was a compromise, and a CARBON COPY of Republican healthcare plans from the 90's. You people are fools.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      Genius – Thank you. 100% agree.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jim

    To Ernie S. Why is it that you see racism in people's disagreement with this? Do you believe that anyone who disagrees with the president is racist? If not, what CAN someone disagree with him on and not be a racist?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mark

    Congrats... millions of uninsured sick people will continue to flood the emergency room... driving up the hospital's cost which in turn funnel those extra costs to the insured sick people and therefore insurance agencies will continue to hike up insurance rates until only the rich will be able to afford health insurance... and then the cycle repeats until those who can't afford health insurance (which will eventually everyone who isn't rich) go to the ER and declare bankruptcy just for getting sick...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. buildafence

    I am glad this got tossed. This mandate is a joke to begin with, how do they honestly expect to enforce this with the number a deadbeats in this country. How many people do you know that can't manage their money?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. I'm Right

    Just do what most people do, go to the emergency room and never pay!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Monica H.

    I don't think this will matter considering that a judge lifted the drilling moratorium for the gulf many months ago, and our people are still not back to work, yet. The government does what the government wants to do.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jersey Dude

    A judge appointed by little brother Jebbie Bush no doubt!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jimmy

    Revolution in the middle east and a different type of revolution gaining speed in the USA.Can't wait to vote in 2012.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John - Ohio

      You are not required to buy a car!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rich C

    Is everyone forgetting that law requires auto insurance?? And I believe health insurance is even more imporant. If you don't support Obama you're an idiot! Period.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. david

    This admitted Kenyan muslim socialist President will kill this country at all costs. We can't afford to care for 25,000,000 illegal aliens. Hello ???

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny


      January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • RG

      Please explain how forcing someone to buy a product is socialist. It's about as Capitalist as it gets.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      you have to be one of the most retarded posters on here. i guarantee you havent read the law. no where in the law does it say everyone gets free healthcare regardless of citizenship.

      Obama's citizenship has been proven long ago, as well as his faith. try to keep with the time and stop spreading lies and having other GOP talking points. Even your new dumb speaker of the house has confirmed that he believe the president to be a legal citizen and christian..

      January 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Johnny

    That's funny. I'd love to see the look on that judge's face when SCOTUS deems it consitutional. 🙂

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • HC21

      He'll probably look similar to Alito at the State of the Union address last year.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Curtis

    Good. Now we can go back and do what should have been done in the first place – SOCIALIZE healthcare.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ann

    Florida – LOL.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny

      Hah, surprise, surprise.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. FedUpWith naa-sayers

    what part of any of this are some of you missing.. requiring people to have health insurance is no different than requiring us to have car insurance .. what is the benefit for all of us having insurance.. so we are not paying for the bubba down the road with the mindset – it won't happen to me when they get ill – why should I have to pay for someone else to get well? Health care isn't a 'right' .. legally – but it is a responsibility each of us need to take serious.. to take care of ourselves and our family.. yes, it should be mandated that everyone have insurance – it is no different than the mandate to have car insurance.. !!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Runner

      Easy to say if you've got lots of money to spare. Not so easy if you're bankrupt already.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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