Just as the U.S. Supreme Court justices appear to have deep ideological divides on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care law, the interest groups demonstrating outside the proceedings are deeply separated by the red-and-blue political affiliations that likely formed their opinion of the law in the first place.
Longtime foes of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rallied in front of the high court during the three days of oral arguments. Protests organized by the Tea Party Patriots have been especially prominent, attracting several nationally recognized politicians -- including Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. -- to speak before hundreds of self-professed "patriots" garbed in Revolutionary War-era costumes.
"One lie after another was told to pass this bill," Bachmann said on Tuesday before the group, according to multiple reports. "We have not waved the white flag of surrender on socialized medicine."
Other conservative-affiliated groups, such as Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Women for America, have either held rallies or organized protest groups to demonstrate against the law.
Americans for Prosperity, which played a major role in the Republicans' 2010 takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, has been framing the law as bringing the U.S. to a state of "socialized medicine" since the legislation's initial development in 2009.
However, while several conservative groups have mobilized their supporters against the law, Politico on Tuesday reported that the progressive supporters of health care reform still outnumbered its adversaries on the courthouse steps. Planned Parenthood, Families USA and multiple medical groups -- including the National Hispanic Medical Association -- were among those that organized demonstrations in support of the law.
Religious groups are divided on the issue as well.
The staunchly conservative Christian Defense Coalition and National Clergy Council both insist that the Obama administration's law forces taxpayers to subsidize the "abortion business" by making all Americans purchase health care coverage via the individual mandate.
The Christian Defense Coalition organized an event where supporters laid thousands of flowers in front of the Supreme Court as a "prophetic witness" to the justices, according to the group's website. The flowers were meant to symbolize the children the group says die every day due to abortion.
Despite their argument, the law specifically does not cover the cost of abortion services, except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother. The same rules currently apply to all federally funded insurance plans under the Hyde Amendment.
But other religious organizations, such as the United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society, the group Faithful Reform in Health Care and the Washington Interreligious Staff Community, demonstrated in favor of a law they say provides a vital service to the nation's least fortunate citizens: access to health care, which the United Methodist Church says is a basic human right.
Religious groups on both sides of the issue were seen praying on the steps of the Supreme Court throughout the three days of oral arguments, the Christian Post reports.
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