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Scene outside Supreme Court: marchers, doctors in white coats, even a brass band
WASHINGTON (AP) ' Protesters put on a decidedly democratic display Monday on the broad sidewalk outside the Supreme Court as justices heard high-toned arguments inside. There were marchers circling and singing, doctors in white coats, even a brass band.
By the time arguments began indoors, more than 100 people had gathered in support of President Barack Obama's health care law, walking in circles and singing "We Shall Overcome." A band of students from Howard University played New Orleans-style jazz riffs on two trumpets, a trombone and a flugelhorn.
More than a dozen opponents of the law mixed in, carrying signs that protested "Obamacare" or urged the Supreme Court, "Don't Get it WRONG again." They chanted "We love the Constitution."
A heated discussion between a supporter of the law and a detractor broke out at one point, briefly drawing a crowd around them, but the demonstrations remained peaceful.
About two dozen doctors spoke to reporters from the steps of the court, describing how their patients would be helped if the high court upholds the law meant to bring insurance coverage to almost every American. Among the small throng of white lab coats was Georgetown University medical student Kate Prather, carrying her tiny dog, Ellie.
Dr. Alice Chen of Los Angeles, executive director of Doctors for America, a group supporting the law, said: "This is not about politics. It's about people."
Keli Carender, 32, of Seattle, wore an American flag bandanna around her wrist and another stuck in her pants pocket. A tea party member, Carender said she has health insurance through her job at a nonprofit group but would drop it in protest if the law's mandate that almost all Americans have insurance or pay a fine goes into effect in 2014.
Others lined up for hours, even camping overnight, for a chance to see the arguments firsthand.
Nurses Lauri Lineweaver and Laura Brennaman said they arrived at noon on Sunday. They scored tickets Nos. 10 and 11.
Brennaman, 53, said she spent 30 years working in emergency rooms and frequently saw people without insurance coming in as a last resort to get health care they couldn't afford.
"It's an honor to be in the court," Lineweaver, 35, said as she waited to go inside.