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.' "

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Filed under: Health • Health care reform • Politics • Supreme Court
soundoff (1,747 Responses)
  1. Unreal

    I love how some people who espouse individual responsibility are the same people who oppose the individual mandate requiring people to get their own health insurance. I suppose they're all fine with the fact that their tax dollars are paying for freeloading, irresponsible individuals who choose not to buy insurance and use emergency rooms for their primary care.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Marvin

    It doesn't state which parts.. Obama has been open to changes from the beginning. Its just that the other party has been only interested in shooting it all down just so he doesn't get credit for something that they couldn't put thru

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

    I'm tapped out... UNCLE... go ahead and repeal, defund, rip up, or whatever you have to do to this law to make the health insurance companies happy. I'm paying more for my monthly premium than I am on my mortgage now and the one tiny crumb this bill allowed me was that it kept my college aged daughters covered a little longer. So go ahead and take it away. I've taken pay cuts, I've had my property taxes raised, and my co-pays are ridicules. Seriously, If I broke my arm on the weekend I would take advil until monday so I could avoid the deductible. Between my concerns for my aging Mother, my daughters future (and school loans), and my healthcare insurance I'm completely drained. I hope I can keep my head above water and keep working until I'm seventy now.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OneQuestion

    No mandate? Fine. But I have one question. Who pays the bill when many of these people show up at our emergency rooms? Just asking....

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

      Having been in that situation myself I can assure you that people who go to the ER do, in fact, pay for their medical care. The bill is sent straight to your home. Why this isn't obvious, I can't imagine, but many people here seem to be under the delusion that emergency room care is "free".

      January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. HC21

    Just to make sure I understand, judicial activism is only good when it does the bidding of the right, when the left does something perceived as judicial activism, it's the end of the world upon us. Just saying it helped me understand the right philosophy much better. How hypocritical!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Russ Deven

    Lets dump the administrators both in health care and government who outnumber the health professionals involved in direct patient care..The system would work efficiently once again...P.S. the average age of a registered nurse in the USA is 55 years...Lets train more...and do it now...Russ

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ben

    doesnt really mean anything until it gets to the supreme court anyways, becuase that where this will actually be decided. so just another brick in the road. nothing to see here.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. leon

    Florida judges are the most inept people in the courts. They are the right wing helpers, as witnessed by the presidential decision in 2000.

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

      You could either continue to live in ignorance, or do some research. Gore, not Bush, initiated the legal action in Florida, as he sought to cherry-pick counties, rather than recount the state as a whole. Not one recount done after the election, by the way, showed Gore to be the winner.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe Smith

    OK, so when is this judge going to strike down the requirement to buy auto insurance?

    January 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Check and Balance

      They aren't because it isn't a Federal mandate. It is a state mandate.

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

    Well, let's see? We have 50 states; so now this will be "news" 48 more times because this is the second state to have a federal judge who has a need to be in the news. Only 48 states left to go!

    Maybe they each also want to say they feel like striking down the federal laws about income tax and social security?

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

    All I have left to give is POOP!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dhsjks

    To Barbara, would like to know what planet you have been living on for the last 24 months? Enlighten me...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John - Ohio

    Wow I'm assuming he actually read the bill, as opposed to the rest of congress. This is a great day if this ruling holds!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Professor

    This is precisely why universal coverage is needed...but it will be appealed.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TJ

    true you don't have to drive a car...but when you do purchase a car, you are forced to get auto insurance. The vast majority of Americans own cars.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
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