Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President… (Mark Wilson / Getty Images )
WASHINGTON – Conservative icon Rep. Michele Bachmann called the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the healthcare law the end of economic and religious liberty in America as she rallied disheartened activists.
“We lost religious liberty – that is a fundamental right under the constitution,” she said to a crowd outside the Supreme Court building Thursday. “We lost economic liberty – that is a fundamental right under the constitution. We lost our individual liberty to set our course in this country.”
“This court has forced us now to pay for their utopian dreams,” she added. “Ones we simply can’t afford to pay for.”
Bachmann, who followed Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) at the podium, said conservatives must now seek remedy at the ballot box, ousting President Obama from the White House and overturning the Democratic majority in the Senate.
“We will not back down in November,” she said. “We clearly have the responsibility in November.”
At times, Bachmann (R-Minn.) was almost drowned out by supporters of the law calling for “four more years” of Obama and tea party activists booing particularly disliked parts of the reforms.
By 10 a.m., the broad pavement outside the Supreme Court was crowded with people packed at least 26 rows deep, eager to hear the news.
Reporters raced from the court as the decision was handed down, but with mobile Internet jammed, there were a few minutes of confusion as the details emerged. A shout of victory went up from tea party members at just after 10 a.m. when someone announced that the justices had held the Commerce Clause could not be used to require people to buy health insurance.
But a minute later a cheer came from supporters of the law – gathered at the northern end of the court – when it emerged the law would stand on the grounds that the individual mandate is a tax.
While opponents of the law launched into speeches on the importance of the Constitution, supporters of the law celebrated simply, trading hugs and high-fives and dancing.
Keerthi Reddy, a high school student from Mason, Ohio, joined the celebration on a whim. When she heard the news, she said her reaction was “just wow.”
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen something this big,” she said.
While most supporters of the law left the court before 11 a.m., its opponents lingered to commiserate and plan their next moves. Despite the decision, conservative activists continued to label the law unconstitutional.
Arkady Faktorovich, 65, from Los Banos, Calif., criticized the court as political, adding, “This is tyranny hiding behind sweet words.”
As they processed the news, opponents of the reforms vowed to keep fighting the law.
“This is not over,” Keli Carender, a national tea party coordinator said. “If you thought November 2010 was historic, you just wait for November 2012.”
[Updated, 10:14 a.m. PDT June 28: This post has been updated to clarify that Rep. Michele Bachmann was speaking outside the Supreme Court building.]