The drama outside the Supreme Court this week ended on Wednesday afternoon much as it began -- in the rain.
After the courtroom emptied for the day and the states’ attorneys general who brought cases against the Obama administration’s health care law finished briefing the reporters packed tightly around them, the crowds begin to disperse. The area in front of the building once occupied by passionate advocates and paid line-sitters waiting patiently to get inside -- in some cases for days on end – was filled with camera crews and reporters packing up their gear.
Most of the demonstrators had cleared out by 3 p.m., as the wind picked up and the sky darkened. The general consensus among the quickly dispersing crowd: “It looks like rain.”
A group of 20 or so organized by the Tea Party Patriots lingered, singing “God Bless America” while flanked by no fewer than three American flags. Among them was Keli Carendar of Seattle, who has been leading the group in chants such as “Freedom, yes! Obamacare, no!” since Monday.
Carendar, a legislative coordinator for the conservative group, spoke about her father, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago. Later, with a voice sore and scratchy from days of singing and yelling, she says, “Thank God he got it two years ago” and not two years from now. Her family, she says, was fearful that a “bureaucrat” would merely “give him a pain pill” and tell him to “say good-bye to his family.”
As the rain intensified, Carendar and her colleagues began to pack up their flags, signs, and audio equipment.
Among those remaining was local resident Shirley Washington, one of a handful of Obamacare supporters left and by far the most vocal. “I’m just sick of it,” she shouts. “Obamacare was enacted by Congress and signed by the president.… It is the law of the land.”
Susan Clark, a tea party supporter from Santa Monica, Calif., tried to drown out Washington with a cantaloupe-sized bell, ringing it just behind the other woman’s head. Not that Clark herself wasn’t distraction enough, wearing a suede-fringed vest and tricornered hat and with a red handprint over her mouth which, she said, represents communism.
By 4 p.m., Washington had left. The area, previously home to a zoo of costumed, sign-bearing, shouting Obamacare supporters and detractors, looks like it does most afternoons -- mostly empty, sprinkled with a few camera-bearing tourists. The only exception: Clark, standing center-stage, ringing a bell and shouting, “Freedom! Freedom!”
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