I took a late lunch an took a walk to the Supreme Court area shortly after 2:00. Here is another informal report from my half hour on the street.
When I first arrived on the scene, I noticed no traffic in the block directly in front of the Supreme Court. About 2:30 traffic was flowing like normal. Since the oral arguments were over, the crowd of protesters had shrunk to something like 200-300 protesters just about all clumped together on the Supreme Court Plaza between the sidewalk and the steps. I was surprised at how much litter was lying on the Supreme Court's plaza.
There were still around 25 police officers (no riot gear) stationed in a line halfway up the front steps of the court facing the street and the crowd. There were another 30 or so with their backs to the street facing the crowd. There were another 20 officers lined up across the street on the sidewalk in front on the east side of the Capitol lawn. There were also officers walking around, one Capitol Police office on bicycle, and half a dozen on motorcycles.
I watched from the sidewalk across the street from the court, adjacent to the Capitol lawn. It was impossible to understand any of the protesters' shouts since they all seemed to be talking at once. On my side of the street there were mostly people like me just there to observe. For a time, I stood beside two women from Massachusetts, who were just there to catch a glimpse of history before going to the White House to see the Christmas Tree lighting. We talked in a non-partisan way about what changes might occur before the next presidential election so that judicial intervention can be avoided (standardized voting equipment, for example) and what changes might take place in the states (more split elector delegations, perhaps?), regardless of any steps taken in Washington.
The Capitol lawn is separated from its sidewalk by an attractive wall about three feet high -- concrete I think. There is an area just on the lawn side (west) of this wall where there are media hook-ups so that depending on which way one points a camera, either the Capitol or the Supreme Court is in the background. This area was roped off with yellow tape and was full of cameras, studio lights and technicians, along with a few on-air types. Obviously, today the background was the court. Although the media ports have electricity, there was also a small white trailer that appeared to hold a generator, according to the sign on the side, although I can't remember exactly what it said. I lost count of television cameras, but there were easily more than 20. I did notice a camera labelled "CNN" with "talent" in the chairs apparently ready to go on the air. I'm pretty sure one of the on-air people was Greta Van Susteren. You could read the CNN's tele-prompter machines from the sidewalk, but they had only test messages when I walked by. A few protestors carried their signs across the street, so that they would be in the CNN report's background.
I also saw some small NBC peacock logos on the wall, but facing the cameras, not me. I suspect MSNBC, but I am not sure. Most of the crews were bundled up and waiting.
I saw five satellite trucks. Three north of the Court Building, one to the south, and one that was about a block away (southeast), closer to the Folger Shakespeare Library than to the Supreme Court.
I spoke with a few police officers about the size of the crowd at 2:30 compared to the earlier crowd. The protesters had filled the Court's plaza, the sidewalk and the street earlier. The bicycle officer told me that protesters carried signs and shouted slogans, but otherwise had been peaceful all day.
The protesters carried the signs you've seen on TV, the regular campaign signs and some home-made signs, some more clever than others, all obvious, in regard the carrier's position.. I thought it interesting to note some of the others, there apparently to take advantage of the attention: A Ralph Nader sign, a sign that bore a swastika and said "Outlaw Circumcision, Not the Electoral College, and a quiet woman, passing out literature in support of the Fulan Gong in China.
My fingers cold, despite my insulated leather gloves, I headed back to work. As I walked east down East Capitol St. on the south side of the Supreme Court, I think I may have walked behind the talent during a news report. Does anyone get "Flight 9" News?
P.S. In case it helps:
Bird's Eye View of Capitol Hill:
LC Campus Map (shows proximity of LC to the Supreme Court)
Better map, showing Union Station, Capitol, the Court, & LC
Note the press camera area can be picked out on this last map. Look for an egg-shaped section of sidewalk, just below and to the right of the letter "L" in the word "Capitol." To the right and just above this egg shape is a triangular area (with one side curved.) This is the media area.
Hope you find these reports useful.