Onlookers came to view the spectacle, partisans wanted to make their voices heard. Partisans created their own signs, bought shirts, and chanted. Parents took snapshots with their children and of themselves to remember the carnival-type day.
Even two of the police officers standing at the steps of the court brought camcorders.
The election impasse may have been ending inside Supreme Court, and the fate of the Bush and Gore may be determined. Some of the highest paid lawyers in the country debated the rule of law and constitutional issues. Only about 50 spectators were allowed to watch the arguments.
So the Bush and Gore partisans let their voices be heard outside. They were loud. And both just knew they were right. Both sides said they had more votes, and the other side was stealing the election. Bush didn't want a fair count to determine who one the election. Gore was doing nothing less than stealing the election and would never stop the recounts until he won. One Bush partisan's sign pointed out that even Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian president and war criminal, conceded when he lost his election. Even war criminals have more morals than the immoral Gore, this Bush partisan appeared to say.
They chanted, oh how they chanted. “Gore won, count the votes. Gore won, count the votes.”
“Gore is Grinch. Gore is Grinch.”
These onlookers and partisans and arrived hours before the start of the arguments and left hours after. At the end of the oral arguments, Warren Christopher walked out of the Court building. Walked past the Bush side to talk with the media, he was greeted with a loud boos. When he walked past the Gore side, he was greeted with chants of “Warren, Warren.”
Toby Cryns, a student at American University, came to “stir some things up.” He carried a National Organization of Women sign in the Bush supporters side, and was referred to as a “baby-killer” and “femi-Nazi.” “They're really disrespectful,” he said. “People take no initiative to be respectful,” the Nader supporter said of both sides.
One onlooker came to make some quick money. Ron Floyd sold “Sore Loserman” T-shirts for $15, with free sign included. He said he had no idea how much he made, but “more than a couple thousands' worth.”
As Floyd sold another $15 T-shirt to a Bush supporter, a woman holding a Gore-Lieberman sign said other people were selling the T-shirts for $5.
“Your sign is upside down,” he said reflexively, and walked away.
Between the opposing chants, a man defended his homosexuality to a conservative Christian. Another point, a group was calmly debated whether to manually recount the votes.
A Bush partisan, Scott Bramble, admitted “I've had had fun with Gore people.” He hastily added, “I still believe what I believe.”
Bramble said the Bush side was more “passionate,” and the Gore side came just for the spectacle. But John Amanger, a Gore partisan, said “Bush people may be louder.”
Some partisans said they were outside the Supreme Court as a civil rights issue. Predominantly black precincts were more likely to have the older, less reliable punch card machines, and therefore have their votes invalidated.
“For black people, we've lost so many times. If we lose fair and square, fine. But count the votes,” said Ayesha Fatima, of York, S.C. “It is important to do this is in a proper way.”
Martha Uzel continued for Fatima. “Many African Americans didn't get to vote and died before the right they were given the right to do so. My grandparents fought for the rights to vote. And I’m doing this for my grandchildren to make sure their vote counts.”
“Whatever happens, the country will unite,” said Pamela Cassey, a McLain, Va., Bush supporter. She carried a Gore as Grinch poster. “Even if it's Gore.”
Teressa Martinez, a Gore backer, said “I'm here to in my own way somehow let the Supreme Court Justices know that our votes count.”
One man who looked to be college-aged carried a sign with a British flag which said, “You silly Americans, Monarchy is the best.”
The man was probably one of the onlookers enjoying the spectacle. He was wrong. With few exceptions, the protesters knew not to take the political differences too personally and enjoyed making their opinions known. The United States will have a new president on Jan. 20. In this storm, the American ideal of freedom of speech was alive and well, the and the political system will survive.