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. Sunny

    Big difference and a totally bogus argument to compare the requirement to buy car insurance and health insurance. The requirement for car insurance is to prove you can pay for damages to others that are your fault. Its called liability. There is no requirement to have collision or comprehensive insurance which covers damage to your vehicle.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. ELH

    The question of whether the state can or can not compel you to buy insurance has already been decided. In order to obtain a license plate for your car, you are compelled to buy insurance. If you choose not to buy insurance and thus drive your car unlicensed you can be fined and/or imprisoned. If you don't want to buy health insurance then you should not be allowed to suckle from the public teat when you need medical care.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  3. Steve Lyons

    Health care reform should start by
    1) criminalizing the cost shifting to insurance companies to pay for the uninsured. Rate s will go down.
    2) mandating that hospitals send the uninsured to a dedicated "federal" hospital, that is funded by IMPORT duties.
    3) deporting ALL illegals that attempt to use US medical services. Stabilize and deport.
    4) deny citizenship to children of ILLEGAL immigrants.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. coffegirl

    I think it is 45K is considered middleclass, this person will pay approx. $6,000 in taxes and about $5,400 in healthcare (family of 4) – You have to admit these nubers are staggering and keep going up! This must stop before the people are investing more in Health care than in the infrastructure and protection of this great country.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. vtguy

    Bookies are giving odds of 5-4 for repeal by the Sup. Court!

    February 1, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Ya think we have a conservative activist court?? Nooo waaaay!!! What a shock! I would have never figured them for politics over everything... Not conservatives and their lying ideology! Impossible.

      February 1, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. StanC

    let us not forget that obama in the last state of the union address slapped the supreme court justices for changing the law on corporation funding of elections, and one of the judges was shown saying no way with his mouth and head movement, go right ahead and appeal to the SC, do you think they forgot that slap down, just waiting for a good way to slap obama now.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. theresa

    We desperately need to dump our horrible health care system, but forcing people to pay money to for-profit insurance companies is just plain wrong! Insurance is not the answer - insurance is the problem! Let's look to other countries that cover everyone but spend far less than we do. We need universal coverage with limits on spending. We need to remove incentives for providers and drug companies to push useless but profitable treatments on us. Obama has good intentions here, but he should have used his considerable charisma to advocate a universal system of government-funded health care. As to the likes of Sarah Palen - we already have "death panels." They are called insurance companies!

    February 1, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tilahun

    This country is no more a country of hope. Everything you hear or listen from either government or people kill your truest. When government do nothing, we all blame the government doing nothing; when they involve help us ease the burden we all are in as a citizen, we chant as if the move the government doing is wrong and job killing. I think we all aware all the reasons why we fight the fight. That is, to preserve and secure our right, independence, liberty and democracy. But, America wake up, there are few out their waiting patiently to loot our economy and way of life by th-roughing every term they got in their disposal to please our ears.
    Few days back I had to go to an emergency and when I got there, first, I had to wait over three hours to see a doctor, beside that, the doctor took him like 15 minutes to finish examining me and not only that, when the bill arrived, it was over three thousand dollars. For God sake, imagine paying your monthly income for 15 minutes doctor exam and few pills attached which of course you do not use it. Is this the health care system we fight in the name of job killing, socialism and so forth. Often, it is not clear why majority of us do we do? We totally had no clue the reason we support or against to any issues coming to us. It will be to our interest if we could realize why we support we support or come against. We need to educate ourselves and fight for us than be advocate to those do nothing but loot our economy like blood suckers. America please lets not be a puppet to people with hidden agenda. These people might be from government officials, elected officials, or people from business sectors who appear before you as if they are there to fight for you but behind they successful promote their selfish agenda to help them in rich their pocket. One thing what these selfish individuals won't realize is that by doing what they do to society create generational unattainable health crisis. This of course harm the growth of economy because the society is no more productive; we create no more innovative society 'cause we do not have any more healthier society assist us in ideas to innovate. American, lets we be ourselves and be our manager to lead this great nation forward to the better. It will be our responsibility as a nation or as a citizens to this great nation to take responsibility role it to the good future so that we all live in harmony.

    February 1, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. jd

    The liberals are not for freedom. They don't believe in natural rights. They believe people are dumb, lazy and selfish and must be ruled over by the elites. People cannot rule over themselves. However thank goodness most people recognize as did our founders that rights do come from God or are natural to man, among these are life liberty and property. Their in lies the problem for the liberal/progressive, they want to control man his property, thoughts, and actions under the guise that they can create equality if the idiots will just get out of their way and quite impeding their progress towards a perfect utopia of social justice. But who will be this great benevolent ruling party/government? I am sure the experiment this time will end in a much better result than that of past tries at socialism!!! i.e. Lennin, Hitler, Mao, Castro to name a few.

    February 1, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • detada

      @jd; Your tired argument is absurd. Do you think people are really going to do the right thing out of the goodness of their the name of freedom? Please. All you have to do is to get on the freeway during rush and you will see how mean people can be. Do you realize that YOU are paying the costs for people who show up at the emergency rooms, but elect not to carry health insurance, because they either decide they don't want to pay for it or they cannot afford it? My insurance premiums rose 25% this year alone. The cost is clearly unsustainable. Do you realize that when the insurance companies deny legitimate claims for the insured, the cost to care for those people is passed onto taxpayers, once insurance companies decide they are no longer cost effective to insure? Insurance companies are thieves, no better than the common criminals that break into people's homes. They simply use different tools to steal your money. Adequate and affordable health care with dignity should be a right for every american, not a priviledge.

      February 1, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amercaneedsrealists

      I disagree with detada, I find that many more people do things for others out of the goodness of their hearts. I respect people and they seem to give that back to me, I always try to help someone in need and that kindness is generally returned. Maybe going through life with a chip on your shoulder and ignoring those who need help gets exactly that in return.

      February 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MrTeaPot

    Why should I have to pay for health insurance when I can get treated at the ER for free? ER waiting times are only 10-30 minutes. If I need an X-ray or MRI they can do it right there. It must be the best possible level of care the charges for even the most basic visit are only around $2,000.00 but they can't make you pay.

    I don't want a bunch of stinking liberals infringing on my right to game the system.
    Is this a great country or what?

    February 1, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • L

      Uh, which ER do you go to where the wait is only 30 minutes????

      February 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sunny

    Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.
    But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.
    But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.
    Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law — which may be an isolated case — is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.
    – Frederick\ Bastiat (French economist 1800s)

    February 1, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. SamNM

    Why fight over it. Just give us a Public Option or Universal Healthcare, which is what we wanted in the first place.

    February 1, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. Joe citizen abroad

    Fine. Then let's make it part of the tax code. Just like Social Security. No one's had much success arguing that the government can't force you to pay taxes. A portion of your taxes...just like SSI...would go into an account, which you would use to purchase insurance from the provider of your choice. If you don't exercise that option, insurance will be purchased for you by the federal government from a pool of available providers. Case closed.

    February 1, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  14. J

    For those wanting to read the text of the bill that was passed and stop acting like sheep listening and repeating what they hear from Doomsayers with a heavy profit and political motive.

    I find it hard to believe that people side with companies that have complete control of the most important aspect of you and your family’s existence, your health. Are you willing to risk receiving treatment for your children or yourself because you have become unprofitable? Are you willing to give up everything you have, house, savings, future earnings, and ability to retire to get the treatment?

    Health Insurance companies last year dropped 2.7 million of their most unprofitable customers and added 56% profits. The fact is; your life under this system has a price tag and expiration date. Not determined by God, but by Wall Street.

    February 1, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Wyatt

      Health Insurance companies supported the "Mandate" provision as a way of off setting the pre-existing conditions provisions.

      While Obamacare may not be the "Team" that the typical HMO or Health Insurance executive roots for publicly, the legislation as a whole would is a boon to the industry and is quietly supported in their boardrooms.

      If you remove the Mandate, that support would be withdrawn and I suspect that that is the strategy that is afoot for the anti-reform partisans.

      95% of the running commentary on this story is dogmatic nonsense where the not so clever can claim victory for their "side".

      The concept of actually reading the legislation will not get much traction with this crowd because the intellectual process of connecting the dots to support or defend their side's dogma is well..... either beyond the realm of their capabilities or requires too much work.

      They mindlessly cheer and shake their pompoms in exultant celebration while nothing good transpires and the problem worsens.

      February 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ray

    The 9th justices have the last word... no! Put it up for a referendum vote.

    February 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
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