WASHINGTON, D.C. (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," says Neal Katyal, who represented the Obama administration before the court as acting solicitor general in 2010-11. "People are sitting in that room knowing history is about to be made."
Ron Pollack, 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.
Pollack's 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.
"It's going to be packed," Pollack predicts. "We're going to have a lot of people outside. They will have signs, and they will chant dignified but positive things about the legislation."
By Richard Wolf, USA Today