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)

    There's two type of people out there in America-land. People that have lost their health insurance and those that are about to. NOTHING requires your company to pay for your health insurance. They don't even have to offer you insurance at ANY price. If they cancel your insurance and you, or your wife, or your children, have a major medical condition (cancer, diabetes, etc) YOU ARE SCREWED. When I got MY letter (and it's as easy as THAT) my insurance went from 70$/month to 1600$. 6 months later I lost my medical insurance altogether. Don't feel too secure. It can (and it probably will) happen to YOU. My suggestion: hope and prey the insurance companies (and the Republicans) don't get rid of Obamacare. If they do, make sure you buy a comfortable car. You'll probably be living it very soon.

    February 1, 2011 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  2. Obamaisanidiot

    says it all...

    February 1, 2011 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. truthfulster

    Oh my God, don't take what you read on "Fact Check" as the truth, it's actually Obama's truth, which I don't trust. Ayers was a “key founder” of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
    In 1995 Obama was appointed Board Chairman and President of the Annenberg Chicago Challenge, a “branch of the Annenberg Foundation”.
    Ayers co-chaired the Chicago Annenberg “Collaborative”, which set education policy for the “Challenge”. The Annenberg foundation funds "fact check" and the Annenberg foundation is a socialist front

    February 1, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |

    As soon as Obamacare is cancelled you will see companies bailing out of health care insurance (for their employees) WHOLESALE! Then the "moaning and groaning" will start. OMG,, my insurance just went from $50/month to $1600! or OMG just because my wife had cancer 5 years ago I CAN'T GET ANY MEDICAL IINSURANCE! I think a lot of Obamacare complainers will become Obamacare officianados. Remember the Insurance companies and the Republicans when you declare bankruptcy.

    February 1, 2011 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
    • cobra129

      Contrary to your comment about bankruptcy from obamacaree, millions already are declaring bankruptcy and they're not waiting for obamacare. Its already here because of obama's economic policies of no job creation and sending business overseas. Nope when you vote in 2012 after bankruptcy, think obama and his economic policies, it won't be th e insurance companies that cause economic failure, its government. Its not a one-way street!

      February 1, 2011 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. Alton

    DO I believe that........YES, I do. Reform is needed BADLY. For Insurance Industry giants to literally OWN the American people is WRONG beyond belief. Moreover, its crazy how it got that way. Now they are so powerful, will
    take a revolution to get this mess straightened out. EVERY nation on earth tried our system, IT DOESN'T WORK. FOR
    conser to pretend it does is hypocritical and with 940 million dollars(by insur companiies) past among conser congressmen, its easy to see where their allegience belongs. WHERE is the shame ? Gone to pot.

    February 1, 2011 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |

    The argument that health insurance should not be mandatory because it's "personal" and doesn't affect other people is not true. When you're sick and carried into the emergency room (without insurance) I have to pay for it . I pay for it through government subsidies and higher insurance premiums. Everyone who's working should be contributing toward health insurance. And it should be MANDATORY (like social security and medicare). I don't think it's fair that I have to "foot the bill" for your care if you opt ut of insurance.

    February 1, 2011 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. RebelSix

    Do we need health care reform – YES!
    Should a law require all citizens to buy it or face penalties. NO! welcome to SOCIALISM if this remains in effect.

    February 1, 2011 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
    • trex

      You own a car? You are required to maintain a minimum of insurance SO YOU DON'T SCREW THE OTHER GUY IN AN ACCIDENT.
      Well, it's the same thing with Health Insurance. If you become seriously ill, and you go to the Emergency Room of ANY hospital, you will be treated REGARDLESS of your insurance status, and your ability to pay, therefore, YOU ARE THEN SCREWING OVER THE PEOPLE THAT DO HAVE INSURANCE, BECAUSE WE ARE PAYING FOR YOUR EMERGENCY ROOM VISIT.
      We ARE being laughed at by the rest of the industrialized world for simply shouting that the USA is the best country in the world, when we REFUSE to insure our citizen's good health. Are we the best country in the world if we have guns everywhere, troops globally everywhere, borrowwing money for these troops overseas from everywhere, AND NOT TAKING CARE OF OUR OWN CITIZENS? USA BEST? I'm not so sure of that.

      February 1, 2011 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
    • cobra129

      Yes it does need reforming, government cannot do it, the private secotr can. Government has exacerbated the system by driving up costs to astronomical highs because of Third PartyPayers and HMO's and just plain government intrusion in th market place. People like Trex run off at the mouth without any knowledge whatsoever. Auto insurance is for those that "choose" to drive. Don't drive, you don't need insurance. Many people in Metro areas don't even own cars. Since many now expect the government to take care of them from cradle to grave, they now think H-C is a right, a right to steal from one to pay for another. There are plenty of optioons to make h-c far more affordable than having the government run it. Look how all their other programs are working.

      February 1, 2011 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bob Zmuda

    LOL oh right, Kennedy is a swing vote. Swings from 5-4 to 5-4!

    February 1, 2011 at 5:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. ncmike

    I love it! I once supported the new health care law but now want to see it struck down by the S Court. Why? Simple – it will tick off the majority of voters who will then vote the Dems fully back into power in 2012 and then Single Payer will the only option! Trust me, the insurance Cos don't want this law repealed – so if ht the S Court upholds it then they'll have been bought off by both sides politically by the Ins Cos. Single payer now!

    February 1, 2011 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  10. The REAL Truth

    I just love how everyone is saying that American Health Care was better before the Health Care Reform Act was passed. Either you idiots hid under a rock for the past 31 years or you happen not to be 1 of the 50 million that dont have health care. Let me spell it out for you in simple facts. In 2000 the World Health Organization(WHO) did a list of countries in order of who had the best health care. France was listed at #1 Canada at #30 and the United States and #37. I dont know whow the rest of you were taught but in order of the best #1 and #30 are better than #37. Here is another fact of the 400 million Americans close to 50 million fall in the gap that cannot afford to get their own health insurance but at the same time make to much to get Medicaid. Another fact Infant Mortality Rate for the US puts us at #33 with 6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births(this is the UN Tally #1 in both counts is Iceland with 2.9 deaths per 1,000 live births). These are facts that CANNOT be denied. Every presidential election we cry that we need health care reform, and the one time we get a president that actually has the balls do try to fix it we get idiots like those in this thread saying that Health Care Reform is wrong. Straighten up people either we fix the mistake Richard Nixon caused when he privatized Health Care or we suffer being the laughing stock of the world by ignoring the facts and claiming our health care is the best.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. krozar

    No easy fix for this, but what I hate is that the opposition to the plan doesn't come out with their own ideas. Clearly the system where those who have insurance are paying for everyone else is NOT working. Not only that, but we clearly have a system of employer-based health coverage. Many companies are screwing everyone who has insurance by not providing it for their employees. Walmart, McDonalds, and on and on. There should be no free rides for any company.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. cobra129

    Interesting, now its two-two on decisions. One major Question is should Justice Kagan recuse herself form this case? As the Soliciter General she may not have had actual hands on the H-C issue but she surely advised the administration on the impacts of current challanges that are now in the system. She was still S-G when these lawsuits were filed and no doubt had an advisory role in response to those suits. Impartial, no conflict of interest? I personally think she is not impartial because of her involvement and should recuse herself . Any ruling based on her involvement would/should not have credibiolity.

    February 1, 2011 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
    • trex

      And Scolia should also recuse himself. I mean, he has a CLOSED DOOR session with the Tea Baggers of Congress. And Scolia has not already pre-judged? Complete B/S

      February 1, 2011 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. trex

    Yep, I want an insurance company to make decisions about my health care. I know they would do everything in their power to make sure I remain in good health. Insurance companies are the best. Insurance companies would definately pay for procedures that would be costly, even more than I could afford, just to make me and my family secure and well. Insurance companies have my back.

    Oh, you mean these insurance comapnies are in it for the money? You mean they would NOT pay for procedures I would need to remain alive? What do you mean go look up Arizona's denial of benefits for transplant patients? You mean that insurance companies would deny coverage for pre existing conditions? You mean kids can't be covered on their parents policy till 26? You mean a kid who had surgery for a broken foot would never be able to get medical help paid for any problem even remotely connected to that broken foot,.....forever? .......... You mean I could loose my house and all my savings from a lifetime of sacrifice, just because the insurance company won't pay for my claim?


    February 1, 2011 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
    • cobra129

      Instead of having the Insurance Company or the Government making dicisions on your personal health, maybe you should make you OWN decisions on YOUR own health care and not leave that to anyone else. Now I could understand if someopne would need help with those decisions that depending on how challanged that person is?

      February 1, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. maine liberal

    Universal coverage / single payer solves all.
    This is about healthcare coverage and payment, not about getting care.
    Your insurance company determines who you see, when you them and what is being paid for after the co-pays and no-pays. and after the exec bonuses and the stockholders. one dollar = 65 cents of coverage

    February 1, 2011 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
    • cobra129

      And the Federal government doesn't determine who you see, when you e them and how much they pay? You ahd better get a life or a reality check. You think the Federal government cares about your health? Riiiight! On the contrary, they only care about your tax money. Health care should be/is a personal responsibility, not a government nor insurance company decision. H-C cost rose dramatically the first time the government got involved and its risen exponentially because of government plus the citizens addication of their own personal responsibility by allowing someone else to decide their options. The entire system is irrevokably broken and no single payer/universal coverage will change that.

      February 1, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
    • maine liberal

      @cobra H-C cost rose dramatically the first time the government got involved

      cite one just one example when healthcare costs or insurance premiums declined

      February 1, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
    • JImmy Jack

      My premiums just went $387 a month for my family...thanks Obamacare for driving down my costs. NOT.

      February 1, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. JImmy Jack

    Anyone who wants a larger and larger government to take care of them is a village idiot. The government is a financial negative to the economy. Does anyone think the government can effectively run Obamacare? Let's are the current government programs doing? Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, USPS, FDIC, the US budget, etc. THEY ARE ALL BANKRUPT.

    I place economy among the first and most
    important virtues, and public debt as the greatest
    of dangers to be feared.... To preserve our
    independence, we must not let our rulers load us
    with perpetual debt.... We must make our choice
    between economy and liberty or profusion and
    servitude.... If we run into such debts, we must be
    taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities
    and our comforts, in our labors and in our
    amusements.... If we can prevent the Government
    from wasting the labors of the people, under the
    pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.
    - Thomas Jefferson

    February 1, 2011 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
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