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.' "

FULL STORY

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

    Great!!!

    Can't wait to have everything I've worked for all my life to be at risk in the event I should experience a serious health condition.

    And the uninsured can use the Emergency Room at the hospital as their primary health care provider and all I have to do is continue to pay higher insurance premiums to cover it.

    First and foremost, however, the insurance companies won't have their profits limited to 20% of the premiums they take in, so I can invest my 401k retirement funds in them and expect a much higher return!

    January 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. James

    Access to decent health care is a basic human right. We need to organize our society to make it happen. Period.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Martin C

    Nice the mandate was there to protect the insurance agencies with this provision lifted it will bring about the death of the insurance companies as they are forced to provide covrage and keep existing conditions and not drop people
    now they are not going to be able to collectivly catch all premiums that will equal less money and higher payout as they dwindle and die the last option left will be a public option.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bill

    Yes, but do you like the part about not being rejected for a preexisting condition ? Well, you can't have one without the other otherwise people will hold off buying insurance until they have a serious illness. Taken in context it's not quite as nefarious as it seems on its own. Given a hospital cannot refuse emergency treatment, WE end up paying for the uninsured in our policies through inflated hospital charges. Which is worse ? As almost always, there is no perfect solution.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paula

      I love your response!! I am a medical biller and I know how many people do not have enough coverage to pay for their bills at their death bed. We get stuck with all of it! Who are we going to bill? But you see, no one cares about this until sickness strike, Then everyone thinks it's a right that "We americans" are given good quality health care insurance!!! Well guess what!!! You have to pay for it!!!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wade

    America to Obama:

    F U

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • HC21

      That's very small minded of you to think that your views are representative of that big of a percentage of the USA.

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

      55% approval rating?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jessia

    Everyone in America should have healthcare. Republicans worry so much about money and how much we are spending in the U.S. yet they are OK with the millions of people withouth insurance that go to the Emergency Department for something like a cold. This costs us billions of dollars every year. Stop your negativity Republicans and come up with some solutions of the world's problems for once. Have some compassion for everyone, no matter how much they make. Healthcare is a basic human right. I guess you can just call me a Socialist.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • truman

      should everyone have food, housing, college, water, etc. NO you have to pay for it.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Deven

    Well lets see, if you have a car, you can't use it without Car Insurance...if you purchase a home, you can't live in it without Homeowners insurance....we all have a life, why should we be able to live it without health insurance....it seems so stupid to me.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zaggs

      IF you have a car. You do not HAVE to have a car nor are forced to get one. Same with a house.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. About time

    No one is debating that healthcare needs reform, or that everyone should have it. We just think Obamacare is the wrong way to fix it.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      Oh don't worry many people are debating if it needs reform. Republican alternative = nothing. Usually in a process of "repeal and replace" you come up with the idea for replacement before you repeal.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Your right now if you would have told some people on both sides this we could have worked for a fix instead they used buzz words and wasted time while working just to be elected. Alas Washington cannot function anymore. since elections and pocket lining mean more to them then helping the people. And that goes for both sides because there are no clean politicians

      January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rambo

      And until we find the perfect way, people die. The poor dies. This country is showing its true values.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegnd

      if obamacare is such a bad idea, why did so many right wing politicians campaign with promises to repeal it, and then pass every major provision of it as new laws with their own names attached?

      January 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    Single Payer insurance here we come. It's about time.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      If you believe that, you're a communist – let the federal government run our lives! Go to another country, please!

      January 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      Jay you are an idiot Communism is a form of no government. You are thinking of socialism, please learn from people that aren't on Fox News.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • raelalt

      Jay: "If you believe that, you're a communist – let the federal government run our lives! Go to another country, please!"
      .
      There's an example of someone who fell asleep during Comparative Governments studies.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Toria

      hey you smart asses,(must be dumbacrats) that think you are smarter than jay, communism is a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy, and a single, often authoritarian party, holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people. Hmmm sounds familiar dont you think? Why dont you 2 get together and read the Communist Manifesto. It's an uplifting tale about the nature of societies and the role of varying social strata. You'll love it!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      Toria: "must be dumbacrats"

      Translation: "I don't have an intelligent response, so I'll resort to a childish insult I think is really clever."

      "communism is a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy, and a single, often authoritarian party, holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people. Hmmm sounds familiar dont you think? Why dont you 2 get together and read the Communist Manifesto. It's an uplifting tale about the nature of societies and the role of varying social strata. You'll love it!"

      Yep, no intelligent response, just babbling about communism.

      Let us know when you're ready to discuss health care issues intelligently and knowledgeably.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. WaitASec

    So our cars have to be insured if we own one, but if we have a high paying job our body does not. I thought both high paying jobs and owning a car were considered optional, not mandatory. Unless of course you are suggesting there needs to be a mandate for higher wage standards.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Damien

    Is it terrible of me to think that those who don't want to purchase subsidized health insurance *should* be refused care at ER (for non-life-threatening ailments) unless they can pay 50% of the projected bill upfront? I just feel that if something terrible happens and you can't afford to pay the bill, I shouldn't be required to pay for you through my increased insurance premiums – which is how it happens now.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Educated

      Ding Ding Ding we have a winner, but heres the bottom line, the ones that dont want to pay this insurance up front are most likely the illeagals in the first place, that also dont want to pay for any taxes.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat

      @ educated: Not very.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smith

      So, you will pay for whatever Obama wants to use your money for, Parties, Unions, Dictators, whatever, but you want to focus on the ER and people that cant afford health are...real sweet.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danigirl65

      If you can't afford health insurance, how are you supposed to afford the Emergency room??

      January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • annie s

      educated, you bigotry is showing. Illegals are excluded from getting insurance under the health care bill...and stats show that most illegals who work DO pay social security and Medicare taxes but never collect on them

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

      It's amazing how misinformed people are. I don't have insurance. Although I have had 2 emergency room visits this past year you, the public, isn't paying for it. I make monthly payments on the bills. I doubt if any of you have received or paid my medical bills. If you have, please let me know so I can stop paying on them.

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

      Mealth Insurance premiums have already risen BECAUSE of the Healthcare Bill. Mine went up almost 25% and why? To pay for people's "free" healthcare. I'll take the old way if it comes to that. MY premium goes up because some lazy person wants free healthcare? That is wrong.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • reality checkkk

      Most of these poor people do drugs alcohol, have big screen TV's, have every movie channel. They live better then most working people. Then when it comes to healthcare they want it free. Hell no! If the lazy poor want health care they can pay for it or go pawn their big screen tv.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Smith don't change the subject. Costs are up because of abusers of the system... and of course the ridiculously insane cost of healthcare which is completely out of control.

      As I said before, maybe the model of capitalism doesn't work for health care. If you buy a table and can't afford it, they come take it from you.

      If you need a liver, but can't pay for it, the only recourse seems to be to charge the rest of us.

      That just isn't right.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Obama and the dems are dum for trying to take over healthcare anyway. How does that taste dems, ha ha.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • @ Educated

      You obviously don't work in a hospital. Also, it is obvious you especially don't spend time in emergency rooms around much of the country in less wealthy less and/or educated areas.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      Hey "Educated", Your response is typical of fear-driven ethnophobes. Calling people "the illeagals"(sic) is simply perpetuating stereotypes that are based on uneducated logic. People who can't afford health insurance don't buy health insurance. Our political system and our health care system are deeply flawed and a fix needs to be tackled by someone. This law is a starting point, reversing it would put us back at square one.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sajor

      @ Educated
      I do tax returns. You would be surprised at the number of illegals that pay taxes. The IRS even gives them an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) so that they can pay and claim refunds. They even get Medicare and SS taxes deducted from their checks, and they don't qualify for either. The idea that they live off our taxes is a fallacy perpetuated by politicians and the ignorant. If anything, many retirees and Medicare recipients live partly off their taxes. Also, learn to spell before you claim to be something you clearly are not.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyBillsAren'tYours

      if I default, I pay for it, no you.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not convinced

      Ok, for most that don't know if you don't have health insurance and go to a hospital, that is not what raises your rates. The hospital"S eat that care and get some of that back from the government. Now while they will raise the care rates to cover that most insurance companies have contacts with Hospital systems as to how much they have to pay. So while it may raise the cost of health care it doesn't directly affect your rate right now. There are many contributing factors that lead to that. OK, so ifwe are all have federal/state health care do you think those lizards in DC won't raise your cost for something else???? I mean if you are really beliveing that argument, I have a $300 hammer for you to buy and also a $2500 toilet! There has to be a better way, thought it was the free market but many people ioncluding the insurance companies have ruined that with ..., OH YEA, Legislation put in by their Lizards in DC!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Penn

    This is complete BS. If they dont get health insurance, then they should not be eligible for any health care benefits like medicaid or medical assistance. I for one am sick of my taxes paying for people health care.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • K Edwards

      Penn I agree 100%. If they put an option in there that you can refuse, but you cannot come back and sign up if you have a problem that would be fine and show the gravity of their decision.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gay Bob

      All people in this country deserve health insurance.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uncle Jerry

      Yeah, screw 'em if they can't pay. If you don't have any money, you can die. Now that's the America I know and love.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      I'm sick of paying taxes to fund rich people's tax cuts. I'm sick of paying taxes to fund wars that have nothing to do with the safety of American citizens. I'm sick of paying for taxes to pay ignorant federal Judge's salaries who exercise judicial activism to political gain.
      Where do I opt out?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • usarnaem

      Penn: I'm tired of my tax money being used to pay for fire and police coverage for your house. Where do I opt out?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Penn

      Opt-out of police /fire coverage? please, dont even try to compare this to health insurance.

      Uncle Jerry, if they can't aford insurance coverage is one thing, but if they are presented it and refuse it, that is their problem.

      January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kevin

    We have universal health care NOW. You can go into any emergency room in the country and be treated for any condition, regardless of your ability or intent to pay for it. We HAVE universal health care now, and, if you have health insurance or self-pay, you are paying for that universal care to be delivered in the most expensive way possible.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • al

      Yes and I for one am tired of having to pay for it.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Well, if you want the GOP "final solution," we'll need to allow ERs to refuse treatment to anyone who doesn't either self-pay or have health insurance. The uninsured aren't just going to disappear (that is, DIE) unless we do that.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      That's not entirely true. I entered an emergency room because I was vomiting blood, and they sent me home because they couldn't contact my insurance company at 2 in the morning. Not that I didn't have an insurance card, they just couldn't CONTACT them. I ended up going to an urgent care about 6 hours later and found I had an ulcer.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darth Cheney

      Not really. We have a system that strongly dis-incentivizes preventive care for tens of millions of people who do not have insurance and are not wealthy (and no the majority of these individuals are not illegals). Their non-prevented problems usually come back to be higher-cost problems years later, increasing system costs. And in addition to dumping costs from uninsured to insured, let's not forget the many insufficiently insured who find out to their horror that their plan doesn't adequately cover their costs and they then have to go into bankruptcy. "Universal" has to be understood in the proper context – true universal coverage does not disadvantage the poor and working class (and their children) and does not bankrupt a single American.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Kevin:

      Even if that were true, emergency rooms can and will charge full-freight for any service rendered, and inability to pay those fees almost instantly results in bankruptcy and destroyed credit. Most employers access credit records as a condition for employment, so these people will likely then be denied work as a result of being sick–even if they fully recover (creditors are not beholden to doctor-patient confidentiality law). Next comes another wave of punishment for being ill, when employers can and will discriminate against anyone with such a record of even being periodically unwell. The emergency room-based system of care is inefficient, overly-costly, destructive, and frankly, uncomprehendingly thoughtless. I shudder to imagine the Ayn Rand world of the dead and dying in the streets that your health care pan eventuates into.

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

    Seems like people are saying you can only force people to purchase insurance if they are participating in the relevant market. Since everyone participates in the health care market (because everyone gets care – insurance or not), you can be forced to carry health insurance. Seems logical to me.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tom

    THANK YOU GOD AND YES I DID SAY GOD SUPPOSE YOUR AGAINST THAT AS WELL HUH ?? THIS WILL SAVE US SMALL BUISNESS OWNERS !!!!

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

      Not so much against god whiners as much as I am against people that are so ignorant they cannot write two sentences without grammatical or spelling errors.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank Dunn

      As a small business owner, I can't get people because of the current insurance situation. Since 40% of people have pre-existing conditions, they have to work for a large company that will provide their insurance. Health care reform solves my problem.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick Lewis

      Bunk. Small business owners would have gotten out of the health care business altogether under this which would have saved them in the long run. You've been conned into thinking that this was bad for you by the GOP.

      By the way, any business that can't operate without huge incentives that need to be lobbied for is operating on a failed business model.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darth Cheney

      Want to bring God into this? Read Matthew chapter 25. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me. Might want to check who said that. Hint: You would deny health care to Jesus.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brett

      I work for a small business of 15 employees, and we are all fully insured. I think it is criminal if a company does not insure it's employees. It should be in your business plan from the start.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Save you what? The right to pay slave wages and no benefits? Most informed small business owners love this bill, but then those are educated successfull business owners, not ones who would like to go back to paying with company scrip.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uncle Jerry

      Yer smart ernt ya?

      January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • usarnaem

      Tom: According to your logic, God must hate poor people who can't afford coverage.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
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