2012 ELECTION

Rick Santorum calls Obama health care law 'unconstitutional'

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A heated discussion between a supporter of the law and a detractor broke out at one point, briefly drawing a crowd around them, but the demonstrations remained peaceful.

Rick Santorum at the Supreme Court Monday. (Photo: Scott Thuman)

About two dozen doctors spoke to reporters from the steps of the court, describing how their patients would be helped if the high court upholds the law meant to bring insurance coverage to almost every American.

Among the small throng of white lab coats was Georgetown University medical student Kate Prather, carrying her tiny dog, Ellie. Dr. Alice Chen of Los Angeles, executive director of Doctors for America, a group supporting the law, said: "This is not about politics. It's about people."

Keli Carender, 32, of Seattle, wore an American flag bandanna around her wrist and another stuck in her pants pocket.

A tea party member, Carender said she has health insurance through her job at a nonprofit group but would drop it in protest if the law's mandate that almost all Americans have insurance or pay a fine goes into effect in 2014.

Others lined up for hours, even camping overnight, for a chance to see the arguments firsthand. Nurses Lauri Lineweaver and Laura Brennaman said they arrived at noon on Sunday.

They scored tickets Nos. 10 and 11. Brennaman, 53, said she spent 30 years working in emergency rooms and frequently saw people without insurance coming in as a last resort to get health care they couldn't afford. It was a hot ticket even in Congress.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., an opponent of the health care law, watched the non-televised arguments at the invitation of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Johnson told reporters afterward: "I was begging to be in that courtroom on this very historic day."

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