Outside Supreme Court, health reform supporters, opponents battle for the mic

Former Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) speaks to people protesting on the second day of oral arguments for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building on March 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today is the second of three days the high court has set aside to hear six hours of arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
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Michele Bachmann, health care, supreme court
Former Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) speaks to people protesting on the second day of oral arguments for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building on March 27, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

(CBS News) WASHINGTON -- Amid the thumping drumbeats and random outbursts of her opposition, Jenny Beth Martin, the leader of the Tea Party Patriots, tried to get her microphone in working order outside of the Supreme Court Tuesday.

"I'm Jenny Beth Martin with Tea Party Patriots, and we're here today to represent the nearly 75 percent of Americans who want... Can they hear me?" Martin said into the mic, interrupting herself.

She started again, "I'm Jenny Beth Martin..." And then she stopped again. "Oh my god," she uttered into the microphone in frustration.

The noise of protesters continued unabated on the second day of Supreme Court hearings reviewing the constitutionality of President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul. Today, the court heard arguments getting to the meat of the issue: Whether the federal government can require nearly all Americans to acquire health insurance.

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Martin finally got through her introduction and continued to rail against the health care law, saying, "Obamacare is a cancer."

All the while, supporters of the law -- who appeared to substantially outnumber its opponents outside of the court on Tuesday-- booed Martin and called her a liar. "We love Obamacare!" they chanted, following the Obama administration's lead and fully embracing the once-pejorative term.

The chants and shouts of the reform law's supporters continued to interrupt the Tea Party Patriot's press conference, straight through Rep. Michele Bachmann's remarks.

The congresswoman, boasting that she was the author of the original House bill to repeal "Obamacare," told the crowd, "We have not waved the white flag of surrender to socialized medicine."

She called the ultimate outcome of the health care case "one of the most important, most consequential decisions" the Supreme Court will make.

The protesters surrounding her, meanwhile, chanted, "Protect our care, protect our law!"

As Bachmann noted that health care costs continue to climb in spite of the president's promises, the protesters began the chant, "Health care works for you! Health care works for me! Health care works for every American family!"

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Eventually a young woman started repeating the chant with a bullhorn, loud enough to compete with the congresswoman. The protester held a sign with a picture of Jesus on it which read, "What sick bastard would want to provide free health care?"

The Tea Party supporters around her complained about the woman's antics, some getting in angry exchanges with her. "Don't do it in my ear!" one man yelled, referring to her chanting. "Then move!" she shouted back. A man later blew an air horn next to her ear as she continued to chant.

"This bill has not united this country, it's divided this country," Bachmann said. "Look around you. We are more divided than ever."

Indeed, a new CBS News/ New York Times poll shows that a quarter of Americans want the reforms kept intact while four in 10 want the law repealed and another three in 10 want just the individual mandate repealed.

One recent controversy surrounding the health reforms relates to a new rule requiring full insurance coverage of preventive services for women, including contraception. Several Planned Parenthood supporters at the Supreme Court were holding pink signs that read, "Protect women's health."

Cindy Wilkerson, a Tea Party Patriots supporters who drove to Washington from Mississippi for today's protests, suggested the defensive posture of groups like Planned Parenthood was political posturing.

"I'm a woman, and I don't advocating losing women's rights -- that's just not true," she said, looking at the signs. Wilkerson said it made sense that there was so much contention surrounding the free preventive services rule.

"Whenever you promise anybody something for free, that ups the ante," she said. The health care law, she added, "has been used to divide us."

Twenty-year-old Hannah Hoffman, meanwhile, said the new conservative focus on contraception issues dismayed her. The University of Maryland student, wearing a Planned Parenthood t-shirt, said it felt like a Republican "war on women."

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Hoffman saw a woman holding a sign that read, "Real women pay for their own birth control."

After Hoffman remarked that she was shocked to see a woman holding that sign, a man retorted, "because she's a real American!"

Hoffman shouted back, "Do you have babies?! Can you have babies?!"

In spite of the exchange, Hoffman said she found the protest to be relatively cordial.

"A lot of my frustration is you see anti-choice and anti-health care people holding American flags, saying they're real Americans," she said. "I'm an American woman, I have American principles, and I think everyone should have equal access to health care."