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Covering a subdued circus outside the Supreme Court

No protest, rally or parade would be complete without the strains of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” which musicians played and Affordable Care Act supporters sang outside the U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning.

But even with the trombones, the atmosphere outside the high court on day No. 1 of the three-day healthcare law case was far more subdued than the circus-like frenzy most everyone anticipated. That frenzy could come tomorrow, though—likely through protests—when justices will hear about the individual mandate, considered the lynchpin of the 2010 law.

On Monday, groups supporting or opposing the Affordable Care Act began chanting everything from “One, two, three, four, healthcare's what we're fighting for!” to “The ACA is here to stay!” and “We love the Constitution!” in the hours leading up to the arguments.I caught up with Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack just before his group's 8:30 a.m. ET press conference that presented eight (!) speakers—including physicians, nurses and patients—to defend the law and promote its benefits.

“By illustration, we're hoping to explain to people that the Affordable Care is really going to be helpful to them,” Pollack said. “There is so much confusion. We thought the best way to illustrate how the Affordable Care Act is going to help is by providing the real examples of people who have already been helped and will be helped,” Pollack said. He added that Families USA plans to host similar events in the next few mornings.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives later this week will vote on a budget blueprint from the House Budget Committee that calls for reforming the Medicare program into a premium-support model. On Monday morning, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a new new video featuring Martin Sheen in which the veteran actor, who famously portrayed the president of the United States on TV, criticizes House Republicans for sacrificing Medicare in order to give tax cuts to special interest groups.

“Tell Republicans in Congress that Americans worked their whole lives and kept their commitments and we expect Republicans to do the same,” Sheen said. “Tell them to keep their hands off Medicare.”

Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter @MHJZigmond.
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