Demonstrators for and against the healthcare law march and chant outside… (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)
Reporting from Washington —
The twin Vermont marble statues Contemplation of Justice and Guardian of Law stood watch over a makeshift encampment at the bottom of the Supreme Court steps today, as the sun rose on the first day of arguments in a historic case on the Obama administration's healthcare law.
The encampment was for people hoping for a seat in the court’s public gallery, some of whom have been waiting in line since Friday. The spectators who will sit in on today's arguments were ushered in around 7:30 am EST, but many elected to wait another day to get a seat when the court is scheduled to address the constitutionality of the law's so-called individual mandate.
Carol Starbuck from San Luis Obisbo, Calif. said she was in Washington visiting friends and had not planned to go to the proceedings but, almost on a whim, joined the line early on Saturday. She is now in pole position for Tuesday.
"Right now, I’m not for the bill, but I want to educate myself," Starbuck said. "I'm going to pray for God's wisdom."
Behind her were Monica Haymond, who runs a blog about the Supreme Court and is a veteran of waiting in line for the public gallery, Kathie McClure, an Atlanta attorney, and a much larger number of paid line-standers, who hold places for people who can afford not to sleep on the sidewalk.
Those waiting had contended with heavy rain over the weekend and temperatures that dipped to near-freezing Sunday night. The sun was out in Washington but the imposing Supreme Court building cast a shadow on the crowd gathered ahead of oral arguments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
A ring of demonstrators, marshaled by people in bright orange AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) vests, marched along the sidewalk, chanting, "Protect our care, protect the law" and "The ACA, it serves us all."
At 8:30 a.m., a coalition of organizations that support the legislation began a news conference, bringing out doctors, nurses and people who said they have personally benefited from the 2-year-old law.
Alice Chen, a doctor from Los Angeles, stressed the coalition's message. "This is not about politics, this is about people," she said.
A small knot of tea party members who oppose the law vied for the attention of the media, waving a yellow banner with the movement’s "Don’t tread on me" motto and chanting, "We love the Constitution."
Diana Reimer, a Tea Party Patriots organizer from Pennsylvania said she is concerned about what the law will mean for seniors, including her husband, who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. "If we get sick, they just want to get rid of us," she said.
Waving a passport-sized copy of the Constitution, Reimer said the healthcare law goes against the Founding Fathers' intentions. "The founders wanted freedom," she said. "They had such insight when they wrote this."
Original Source: Healthcare supporters, protesters gather outside Supreme Court