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Crowd Dwindles On Final Day of Health Law Arguments

A smaller and more subdued crowd gathered outside the Supreme Court Wednesday for the third and final day of the historic hearings over President Obama’ health care law.

About 100 supporters of the law, many carrying signs saying, “Protect our Health, Protect the Law,” marched in front of the Court, while about 30 opponents stood nearby with their own placards.

The justices are scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday morning about whether the rest of the health law can stand if the individual mandate is overturned by the court.  In the afternoon, they are considering a challenge to the law’s Medicaid expansion.

Marty Hayden, 54, of Alexandria, Va., a supporter of the law, said he was optimistic the justices would uphold it, even though the government’s top lawyer had come under tough questioning Tuesday. “I still think the justices will do the right thing,” he said. “We are a long way from the ruling.”

Angela Bartels, 56, a nurse from Seattle who supports the law, also expressed confidence. She said pundits’ predictions are often wrong, adding, “It’s really hard to gauge what the judges will do based on the questioning.”

John Stevens, 49, of Richmond, Va., an opponent of the law, predicted a different outcome.  “This law will not stand,” he said, adding that he was pleased by the justices’ aggressive questioning on Tuesday.

Several people also spoke outside the court about the value of Medicaid, the joint federal-state coverage program for low-income people slated to be expanded under the law, including an Ohio state lawmaker, a doctor and the grandparents of a child on Medicaid.

“We are beyond grateful for how Medicaid helped us with our granddaughter,” who suffers from multiple sclerosis and heart issues, said Linda Christianson of Arlington, Va.