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Protesters, Spectators Gather Outside Supreme Court


There's been a boisterous scene outside the U.S. Supreme Court this morning. Inside, arguments over the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's landmark health care law, started about an ago.

Outside, NPR's Ari Shapiro has been talking with protesters and counter-protesters. And, Ari, I loved one thing you tweeted earlier. The scene outside the Supreme Court can basically be summed up - two, four, six, eight - find something that rhymes with eight. What's it look like there?

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Yeah, it's basically - big crowds have been chanting for and against the law. Up until recently, there were (technical difficulties) this morning, anyway - far outnumbered the opponent. They also seem to be more organized. Their signs are professionally printed. They (technical difficulties) they're saying we love Obamacare. One, two, three, four, health care's what we're fighting for. The ACA is here to stay. That's the Affordable Care Act.

There are union groups, associations of doctors and nurses, the National Organization of Women is here. They're marching in a circle. And, you know, they've been going for a few hours. They say they'll be here all three days of the argument.

GREEENE: And Ari, I know we're having a little bit of trouble with your line. I can still hear you, though. Tell us about the group of protesters who are opposing the law.

SHAPIRO: Well, there's not quite as many of them, as I mentioned. (Technical difficulties) say, Tea Party Patriots. There are American flags. They're holding a Don't Tread On Me flag. Their signs are handmade. One says: Obamacare, Nice Smile, Teeth of Iron, Forced to Buy. Another one of their signs says: Unlawful, Lacks Consent of the Governed. When the law's supporters chant we love Obamacare, the opponents chant we love the Constitution.

One very high-profile opponent of the law is going to be here a little later. Rick Santorum has announced that he's going to show up here on the steps of the courthouse at about 12:20, just after the day's arguments have concluded. And he'll be campaigning. You can expect that he will not only talk about what he dislikes about President Obama's law, but also compare it to Mitt Romney's health care law that was passed in Massachusetts, which bears some similarity to the national model.

GREEENE: A presidential candidate showing up will certainly add something to the scene. Well, Ari, finally, tell us...

SHAPIRO: Oh, yeah.

GREEENE: ...about the people who have been waiting in line to get into the building.

SHAPIRO: Well, there are two groups of them. One started lining up Friday morning to get the 60 or so seats that let people stay as long as they want in the arguments. Many of the people in that line for days were paid to actually hold places for people who showed up at the last minute to claim their seats. Others came, camped out themselves.

And then there's a second line of people waiting to get one of these seats where you sit for three to five minutes. I talked to a couple of them. Some supporters, some opponents, but all just really wanted to be part of what they see as a historic moment that will be remembered for decades, this landmark argument today.

GREEENE: All right. That's NPR's Ari Shapiro, who is outside the Supreme Court. Thanks, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Good to talk to you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.