This morning on the steps of the Supreme Court, a crowd politically and racially split as the health care debate itself gathered, and there was a clear line of distinction between those in support of the hotly contested ruling and others who sat in opposition. Among the throng were union workers who support health care and Tea Partiers who don’t, with each promoting their agenda and talking points. However, as the moments approached for the Court to provide the historic vote, a tension hung over the air that belied the celebratory nature of things to come.
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Shortly after 10 a.m., news arrived to the crowd that the sharply divided Supreme Court justices voted to uphold the required individual insurance portion of Obama’s health care overhaul. Democrats largely declared the court’s ruling a victory for its party, while Republicans scrambled to save face and latched on the heels of GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s criticism of “Obamacare” who vowed that, if elected, he would repeal the law and do away with what he called a “liberal agenda.”
On the ground, the mixed crowd carried signs and water bottles under the sweltering conditions as temperatures rose fast along with tensions between revelers and the police. Photo opportunities were abundant, although many Hill staffers refused to be photographed by NewsOne cameras or offer any reaction. There were a handful of gatherers who did express their sentiments both in support and in direct criticism of the ruling.
“I think of myself as an intelligent person, but I barely understand a lot of the inner workings of this bill,” said a staffer who wished to remain unnamed. “It sounds good on paper, but I’m always wondering what the rest of the fine print says.”
Workers from the National Nurses United union showed support for the ruling by carrying signs and clapping loudly as the news of the ruling spread throughout.
Aleya Horn Kennedy of the Association of Reproductive Health Officials offered, “I’m happy that the mandate portion was upheld, but I do have concerns with other parts of the law. As far as what we do at the association, as long as the Medicare provision is upheld, the family planning portion, [I am pleased] so we can continue to assist low-income persons. The ins and outs are still a little fuzzy, but for now, we’re happy to see that women and men will have an opportunity for adequate and deserved health care.”
Kennedy also noted that because of the disproportionate amount of people of color, especially African Americans who are not able to receive high-quality health care, having insurance affordable to those groups is a boost for the nation overall.
As previously mentioned, the Tea Party was out in force, and without fail, they railed against the ruling, saying loudly that liberals are hijacking the Constitution and that President Obama is going to sink the country with the controversial health care law.
At several points after the ruling, speakers would take to a makeshift podium, proclaiming both victory and vengeance, sometimes in one fell swoop.
Pro-Obama crowds shied away from Romney and Tea Party supporters who became increasingly vocal as the crowd dispersed. As one unnamed Hill employee noted, it became clear that the heavy police force looking over the crowd was a necessary element.
“Lord knows what manner of back and forth would have happened had the cops not been down here to keep some type of peace,” the woman shared.
As the White House basks in its victory and crafts campaign messages around the ruling, expect that the Republicans and other opponents of the law will be firing back in kind as the salvos will surely carry over well in to the fall leading up to the election.
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