Outside the Supreme Court, the health-care party’s over. Now what?

March 28, 2012

The Supreme Court just handed down a big, fat bummer without even issuing a ruling.

All the justices had to do was gavel three days of “Obamacare” hearings to a close, and hundreds of protesters and professional line-standers suddenly had to confront a question more nettlesome than the Commerce Clause:

Now what?

The party’s over, and all the protesters, who’ve had a ball for days, and all the professional line-standers, who’ve made pretty good money, have to find something else to do.

Which raises another question: What the heck does a 78-year-old guy in a giant foam justice head — he thinks it’s Justice John Paul Stevens but isn’t sure — do all day when there’s not a historic Supreme Court case to protest?

The Silver Spring resident, who goes by Moondancer, plays Santa in season. He’s got a massage sideline, plus a number of odd jobs. And he’s got a trip planned to Brazil, where he went previously for dental work because it was cheaper than in the U.S.

“I go down to Brazil and get my teeth fixed – seven implants – and I paid $2,000 for transportation and I ended up [saving] $12,000,” Moondancer said.

Even with all that on his dance card, the end of the hearings is a letdown.

“I’m an extrovert,” Moondancer said. “I have lots of costumes, and I go to lots of demonstrations. It’s more fun than rock concerts.”

And what of General George Washington? Impersonator James Renwick Manship Sr., who strutted around in Revolutionary regalia, kept paraphrasing another president for some reason.

“Gerald Ford said, ‘Any government that’s large enough to provide you with everything is large enough to take everything away.’ ”

Manship, of Mount Vernon, naturally, heads to another courthouse — in Arlington — Friday, where the legal buff but non-attorney said he will advise someone representing herself in a custody battle.

There were more conventional people in the crowd, too, who will return to more ordinary lives.

Lisa Nancollas of Lewistown, Pa., a former nurse who appeared in pink hospital scrubs plastered with a “Stop Socialism” sticker, will go back to her job sniffing out insurance fraud. Diane Kupelian of Bethesda, who held a sign saying “Separation of Corporation and State,” returns to her stay-at-home mom gig.

But for many veterans of this supremely long and colorful carnival, the everyday lives they return to are out of the ordinary.

Take Andrew Eiva, who spent about 11 hours a day outside the courthouse, working in shifts with other professional line-standers to hold spots for people who wanted a seat inside the courtroom.

On the sidewalk where he was camped out, Eiva, 63, shared his biography: He’s a former Army officer who got interested in liberation movements, started pushing in the 1980s for more American support for Afghan rebels, took down a CIA deputy director, and got written up in newspapers and books. (Just Google him.)

And now, he stands in line for people who can’t be bothered to do it themselves. Which makes perfect sense in this town.

“I made enough enemies in Washington,” he said, “to reduce myself to this.”

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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