(CBS News) On the first day of the Supreme Court's oral arguments on President Obama's health care bill, approximately 20 people waited in line for entrance to Tuesday's arguments, the "main act" of the hearings on the Affordable Care Act debate. Some waited out of personal interest. For others, it was just a job.
First in line was 56-year old mother of two Kathie McClure, who traveled from Atlanta, Georgia, to hear the arguments. An ardent advocate of equal access to health coverage, McClure has two grown children with chronic conditions: a son with Type One diabetes and a daughter with epilepsy.
"We've paid a fortune to keep the kids covered," she said. "Around $35,000 a year for our family. Most people couldn't afford that."
McClure came alone and had been sitting in line since Friday night: eating, sleeping and passing the time by talking to people. Staked out in canvas camping chair, and equipped with a sleeping bag, tarp, umbrella and bag of clothes, she's endured rain, sleepless nights, and getting drenched by automatic sprinklers. "It didn't take long to figure out I was woefully underprepared."
A lawyer by trade, she's traveled the country advocating for affordable healthcare for everybody, and said she took off work be inside the nation's highest court. Though she could have gone in on Monday, she's holding out for Tuesday's arguments, which focus on the individual mandate, the crux of the healthcare debate.
"I'm a lawyer and a mom, so I want to see what goes on in there!" she said.
When McClure needs to gets up to go to the bathroom or get some food, Monica Haymond, a 23-year old blogger and legal assistant, watches her seat.
"We're like a family now," said Haymond, who authors a blog called Lovetheprocess, featuring Supreme Court commentary.
Haymond has also been in line since Friday, and had been blogging from her seat.
She says she and Kathie survive by going to Starbucks for bathroom breaks and to Union Station for food. They're not worried about someone stealing their spots as all of the people in line are cordial, if not downright friendly.
"I don't think they're going to think of it (the mandate) as a tax", said Haymond, who also supports the bill and who also bypassed entrance to Monday's proceedings in favor of Tuesday's.
"Justices Kennedy and Roberts will be for it, while Alito and Scalia are up in the air," she said. Nonetheless, she predicts the decision will be 8-1 in favor of the law, with Justice Thomas as the sole dissenter.
A bit further down the line were husband and wife team Angel West and Tony Williams, Washington D.C. natives who support the health care bill.
"Everyone should have health care: rich or poor", said West.
Approximately 60 tickets will be made available to the general public Tuesday morning, free of charge.
"Everyone who wanted to get in today got in", said Christopher Chambers, a 25-year old law student at Suffolk University, who flew from Boston and had a sunny disposition despite the fact that he was last in line, and that Monday night's forecast called for freezing temperatures. "That's why I have this," he said, tugging at his thin black pea coat. "And Target bags" pointing to a few plastic bags on the ground next to him.
Daniel Rice paid just one dollar to get to the nation's capitol from Chapel Hill, North Caroline, riding on Megabus for more than five hours overnight. For Rice, 23, and recently accepted to Duke Law School, the details are critical. "A hundred and twenty people got in today for the whole argument" he said, which is about 90 minutes, while groups of others were allowed in for three to five minutes of hearings." He came equipped with a sleeping bag and a "ton of clothes", in addition to "a thirty-degree sleeping bag, granola bars, sunscreen and dried cherries."
But not all of those waiting were there on their own volition. Next to Rice were two interns from the Family Research Council, whose assignment for the day was to wait in line for tickets. "We're waiting in shifts", said Lauren Laster, 23. Not a bad day's work.