Supporters of President Barack Obama's health care reforms cheered Thursday on the steps the Supreme Court after its justices upheld the hotly contested law, as opponents vowed to fight on.
WASHINGTON- More than 1,000 protesters -- many fiercely in favor of Obama's signature reforms, others just as passionately against -- jostled outside the columned entrance of the highest court in the land to await the landmark decision.
Supporters, mostly young, chanted "We want Obamacare" and danced to Stevie Wonder's Motown hit "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" and reggae legend Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come."
Those opposed, mainly older Tea Party activists plus a good number of anti-abortion campaigners, waved yellow flags bearing the "Tread not on me" slogan from the Revolutionary War era.
"I'm pleasantly surprised," said James Ploeser, 30, part of a large contingent in blue T-shirts from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which supports government-funded health care for all.
Speculation had been rife the court would reject the highly contentious "individual mandate" section of the health care reforms that obliges all Americans to buy health insurance.
"What happened today is momentum forward," Ploeser told AFP. "There will still be resistance... but it's a stepping stone towards true medicare for all people."
"This has been a long time coming," added Sanjeev Sriram, 30, a pediatrician in Washington who joined the Obama supporters outside the court in his white doctor's coat.
"I've been worried about my patients, my kids," he said.
"To see their health care rationed or discriminated against simply because they have a pre-existing condition or because their parents don't earn enough money -- that's what bothers me."
Only a few yards (meters) away, the posse against the reforms said its fight was by no means over.
One speaker called Thursday's outcome "a monumental blunder" while another suggested that reforms' supporters ought to relocate "to Cuba or France or any other socialized country."
"The entire law must be repealed," said Matt Smith of Catholic Advocate, a group outraged by its requirement for church-affiliated institutions to include contraception in their employee health plans.
"At the end of the day, victory will be ours," said Senator Mike Lee from Utah, who like fellow Republicans pledged to take the fight to this November's presidential election.
"There will be a black cloud over any prospect of economic recovery in this country," added Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who said health care costs for employers would it make it harder to create new jobs.