Crowds voice stands, jazz plays out­side court

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY JES­SICA GRESKO

Demon­stra­tors chant­ing du­el­ing slo­gans, singers, doc­tors in white coats, even a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and a brass quar­tet joined hun­dreds of peo­ple sound­ing off Mon­day on the broad side­walk in front of the Supreme Court as the jus­tices con­sid­ered Pres­i­dent Obama’s health care law.

As the jus­tices lis­tened to le­gal ar­gu­ments, demon­stra­tors said it was im­por­tant their mes­sages be heard, too.

By the time ar­gu­ments be­gan in­doors, the side­walk in front of the court was filled. More than 100 sup­port­ers of the health care law walked in a cir­cle, chant­ing slo­gans like “1, 2, 3, 4, health care is what we’re fight­ing for” and “Care for you. Care for me. Care for ev­ery fam­ily.” One sup­porter walked with a cane, and an­other drove a mo­tor­ized scooter. They were joined by a four-piece band of stu­dents from Howard Univer­sity play­ing New Or­leans-style jazz riffs on trum­pets and a trom­bone.

A much smaller group of de­trac­tors had their own signs, in­clud­ing, “Mr. Obama tear down this bill.” To sup­port­ers’ chants of “We love Oba­macare” the op­po­nents who think the law is un­con­sti­tu­tional an­swered with, “We love the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Rick San­to­rum held a brief news con­fer­ence out­side the court af­ter the ar­gu­ments con­cluded. He vowed to fight for repeal of the health care law if elected and knocked ri­val Mitt Rom­ney for putting in place a sim­i­lar health care law as gov­er­nor of Mas­sachusetts.

At least two heated side­walk dis­cus­sions broke out be­tween the law’s op­po­nents and sup­port­ers, one of them a par­ent whose son had a kid­ney trans­plant and an­other whose wife has a health care busi­ness. Still, the demon­stra­tions re­mained peace­ful.

Early in the day, about two dozen doc­tors stood in front of the court for a news con­fer­ence, with speak­ers de­scrib­ing how their pa­tients would be helped if the high court up­holds the law, meant to bring in­sur­ance cov­er­age to al­most ev­ery Amer­i­can.

“This is not about pol­i­tics. It’s about peo­ple,” said Dr. Alice Chen of Los An­ge­les, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Doc­tors for Amer­ica, a group sup­port­ing the law.

Robert Kennedy, a res­i­dent in in­ter­nal medicine at New York’s Ja­cobi Med­i­cal Cen­ter in the Bronx, de­scribed treat­ing the unin­sured, many of whom wait to come to the hospi­tal un­til they are very sick. Mr. Kennedy, 29, said one unin­sured man wor­ried about the cost of care de­layed go­ing to the hospi­tal for pneu­mo­nia un­til it be­came dif­fi­cult for him to breathe.

Many op­po­nents of the new law, mean­while, wore Amer­i­can flag ban­danas and called for the court to strike down the law. Keli Caren­der, 32, of Seat­tle, wore an Amer­i­can flag ban­danna around her wrist and an­other stuck in her pants pocket.

An­other demon­stra­tor against the law, Diana Reimer of Lans­dale, Pa., said her main is­sue is with the in­di­vid­ual man­date.

“If the gov­ern­ment can tell us we have to buy this, what else can they tell you to do?” said Ms. Reimer, 69, who was wear­ing sil­ver tea-bag ear­rings to show her af­fil­i­a­tion with a tea-party group.

AN­DREW HARNIK/THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Nathan Kil­gore, 15 (right), of the Dis­trict stands Mon­day with his fa­ther, Scott, (in sun­glasses) and oth­ers from Bound4life in front of the Supreme Court build­ing as the court hears oral ar­gu­ments on chal­lenges to the Af­ford­able Care Act.

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