Thursday, June 28, 2012

Opinions Anticipated in Court Ruling

Story first appeared in USA Today.

Tea Party and union members, liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats have two things in common as the Supreme Court prepares to announce its verdict on President Obama's health care law Thursday.

They have no clue what the court will decide. And they will have plenty to say outside the court immediately after — in high praise or denunciation.

Much like the court's three days of oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act in late March, Thursday will feature a crowded, hushed courtroom and a cacophonous series of sidewalk demonstrations.

For some lawyers and lawmakers who have fought the health care battle for years — and in some cases, decades — it's an opportunity to witness history inside the marble courthouse.

There's an atmosphere of intense, quiet excitement. People are sitting in that room knowing history is about to be made.

The executive director of the health consumer group Families USA, has been there the past three days the court delivered opinions, just in case health care was among them. Thursday, he plans to arrive several hours early to make sure he picks up every nuance from the nine justices.

His allies will be outside as well, to react before dozens of TV cameras. Within minutes, the group plans to send its analysis and recommendations for further action to more than 100,000 supporters. It has prepared eight news releases based on potential court rulings.

On the other side of the debate, Tea Party demonstrators also will be out in force. They plan a "flash rally" in front of the court, thanks to "Minutemen" coming from hours away.

Within 36 hours, the Tea Party Patriots plan a teleconference for their members with key opponents of the law.

Members of Congress will be inside and outside. The House Speaker will dispatch two members of his leadership team. The Speaker has vowed to seek repeal of any portions of the law left standing by the court.

Liberal Democrats, anticipating that the court's conservative majority may strike at least part of the law, plan to march from the Capitol to the court with signs urging "Medicare for all," a type of government-run health care.

Some of the most prominent advocates involved with the case won't attend — they'll be busy reading and responding.

A Georgetown University law professor and plaintiff in the case on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business, will be reading the justices' opinions, writing on legal blog sites, doing radio commentary and fielding a steady stream of media calls.

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