Mamma mia, that’s a hot quote!

Hf3Z1ByrtmnCWell, a reporter researching Judge Samuel Alito can’t turn to a much better source than this. Here is the Associated Press report by Gina Holland that is defining the first wave of MSM coverage.

Alito, a Catholic, is opposed to abortion, his 90-year-old mother forthrightly told reporters in New Jersey. As an appeals court judge, he held that states can require women seeking abortions to notify their spouses. The Supreme Court disagreed.

Actually, I would have preferred to hear more from Alito’s mother. Luckily, another AP reporter did land an actual quotation while researching the man who — ALL TOGETHER NOW! Let me HEAR you! — would “become the fifth Catholic on the nine-member court.”

Here are the “Mamma mia!” quotes from the wire-service profile by Maryclaire Dale:

Alito’s mother, Rose, who will turn 91 in December, spent Monday fielding congratulatory telephone calls from her home in Hamilton, N.J., a Trenton suburb. “I’m so excited I can’t even express myself,” she said.

More candid that her son might wish, she said, “I think he was upset that he didn’t get there in the first shot, that Miers got it.” That was a reference to Bush’s choice of Harriet Miers, since withdrawn.

If confirmed, Alito would be the fifth Catholic on the Supreme Court. “Of course he’s against abortion,” his mother said, another comment supporters in Washington might wish she’d held back.

This is actually a nice report by Dale, with concise quotes by people on both sides of the judiciary aisle who have had experience working with this man.

Still everyone knows that we are now facing a tsunami of coverage on abortion rights. It is crucial to note — again — that we know what Alito thinks about some restrictions on abortion rights. Note the word restrictions. This is crucial because many Democrats also favor increased restrictions on abortion, even while they do not favor a complete ban on all abortions.

So once again we face that question: What is the centrist position on abortion?

If liberals back abortion on demand and conservatives favor a complete ban, what do people in the middle believe about abortion and how might America reach such a centrist position? The even tougher question: Is compromise possible under Roe?

With that in mind, Democrats who want to see the pro-life left and pro-life middle liberated once again to back Democratic candidates may want to read this recent column — “Support Choice, Not Roe” — by that noted Religious Right patriarch Richard Cohen of The Washington Post.

Dr  Strangelove  more Slim Pickens 2I realize that many of you have already seen this piece. Still, for those who have not, Cohen raised many, may eyebrows inside the Beltway way, way up high when he wrote:

The antiabortion movement has made headway. That shift in sentiment is not apparent in polls because they do not measure doubt, only position: for or against. But between one and the other, black or white, is a vast area of gray where up or down, yes or no, fades to questions about circumstance: Why, what month, etc.? Whatever the case, the very basis of the Roe v. Wade decision — the one that grounds abortion rights in the Constitution — strikes many people now as faintly ridiculous. Whatever abortion may be, it cannot simply be a matter of privacy.

Here we go (with the second piece of art offering a tribute to young master Jeremy Lott): Bombs away.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Lucas Sayre

    “Momma mia quote” eh? Nice ethnic jab.

  • tmatt

    A jab? Me?

    I thought I’d get ahead of the Catholic coverage wave that’s coming in the next few days.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The liberal media’s sick bigotry against Catholics and other sincere Christians has already made itself blatantly obvious. John Roberts of CBS News referred to Alito as being “sloppy seconds” to Italian-American Conservative Catholic Scalia. Any Conservative spouting such garbage would be spotlighted and fired by the liberal media. As a deacon in a Catholic Italian-American parish I am so so sick of liberal, Democrat, and media bigotry that pours forth like vomit on a regular basis. Most members of my family used to be on Democrat city committees but now get nauseaus at the thought they were once Democrats and had liberal sympathies.

  • dave

    Religion should not make difference, right? Remember it was a catholic, Harry Blackmun who started this.

  • Michael

    “abortion on demand” is like the “death tax.” A made-up term used by the opposition, not by those advocating for abortion rights.

  • Brad

    “Abortion on demand” may not be a favorite phrase of the NARAL types, they’d rather use euphemisms like “pro-choice” (ignoring the fact the pregnant person usually already made a choice to get where they are), but “abortion on demand” is an accurate description of what we currently have that many on the left on this issue are trying to preserve.


  • S.K. Davis

    Actually, the phrase “abortion on demand” originated with proponents of legalized abortion. Just check a ’70s edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves–there’s a prominent photo of a protest with a banner that reads “We demand control over our bodies–Free abortion on demand.”

  • Avram

    The “sloppy seconds” comment was comparing Alito to Miers, not to Scalia, referring to the fact that Alito is Bush’s second choice for the spot. Here’s the exact quote: “Scott, you said that — or the President said, repeatedly, that Harriet Miers was the best person for the job. So does that mean Alito is sloppy seconds, or what?”

    Nothing to do with Catholicism or religion of any sort. And Roberts has already apologized.

  • Michael

    In 1970, we were also using “groovy.” I think “abortion on demand” went out with “groovy” and using it to describe pro-choice supporters is a little loaded.

  • Brad

    Loaded? Yes, similar to “extreme right wing” being used nowadays to refer to anyone who opposes abortion. ;) I point this out with a great deal of annoyance, as one of those otherwise liberal people who oppose abortion.

    Political maneuvering depends on loaded phrases.


  • tmatt

    I think the main reason people were offended can be stated as follows:

    sloppy seconds Noun. A subsequent indulgence in an activity by a second person involving an exchange of bodily fluids. This may involve the sharing of drink, or more often it applies to a sexual nature. E.g.”I’m not having sloppy seconds, I want to shag her first.”

    As long as abortion is justified with reasons of mental health, and mental health is defined as any form of unhappiness or distress, then Roe functions — as a statement of fact — as “abortion on demand.” All of the battles in the post-Roe and then post-Casey era are about restrictions of that absolute right and the restrictions continue to be overturned as violations of Roe, Casey, etc.

  • C. Wingate

    I’m a bit surprised that more isn’t being made of an evangelical Protestant setting up a majority RC court. Surely this is the first time the latter has happened in the country.

  • tmatt

    Interesting question from a reader this a.m. in light of the Alito story. Someone did a list of the members of the court and separated out an “Episcopalian” from the “Protestants” on the court.

    The age old question again — are Anglicans “Protestants”?

    Anyone out there with a strong opinion?

  • Douglas LeBlanc

    Of course Anglicans are Protestants, and I think only the most precious form of Anglican exceptionalism would deny this. I appreciate my communion’s efforts to be a middle way between Catholicism and Protestantism, but people who consider this a unique achievement really ought to get themselves to an ELCA worship service sometime.

    For most of its history, my church was known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Yes, some spiky Episcopalians arguably are more Catholic than the Pope in their piety. But yes, some evangelical Episcopalians give new meaning to the phrase “happy clappy.”

    If you want to argue that the Episcopal Church is post-Protestant, a sort of high-church Unitarian Universalism, that’s another discussion.

  • Avram

    Terry, I know what “sloppy seconds” means, and I can understand why some people took offense, but in context, it clearly had nothing to do with religion or Scalia, as Bresnahan claimed up above.

    It was a really strange thing for Roberts to say; it didn’t make sense as an editorial comment, even metaphorically.

    It looks like he was trying to imply that Bush thought Alito was inferior to Miers, some sort of runner-up, second-place candidate, and the wrong thing came out of his mouth.

  • Dan Crawford

    Alito’s views on abortion “rights” may have taken center stage in the “debate” but I wonder whether anyone in the media or blogging will attempt to help us understand why Alito thought it perfectly appropriate for police to require a strip search of a ten-year old girl and her mother without a warrant or apparently without any legal justification. That and several others of his opinions really do need something more enlightening than the ideological hysteria of the right and left.

  • Michael D. Harmon

    Sigh. For a full description of the “strip-search that wasn’t” see the Powerline blog. Because drug dealers typically hide their wares on people in residence who may not be named in a warrant, the cops in this case asked the judge to authorize a search of everyone present. They brought in a female officer who took the mother and daughter to another room, had them partially disrobe and patted them down. No drugs were found, and the cops were sued because their request was listed in an attachment to the warrant (which the issuing judge had read), not the warrant itself. Alito said that wasn’t a fatal flaw, but the other judges disagreed. Some “violation of rights.”

  • Molly

    “(ignoring the fact the pregnant person usually already made a choice to get where they are)” – Brad

    Sorry, Brad. I couldn’t let that comment go by without
    this link.

  • Brad

    Clearly the use of the word “usually” is an escape clause for the horrible situations that sometimes happen.

  • Brad

    Wow, my last comment was severely shortened!

    Anyway, I was saying I generally tend to favor exceptions in the 3 cases generally cited (incest, rape, severe harm/death for the mother). I just think generally those are extreme exceptions.


  • Stephen A.

    As for Alito’s mother’s rather disarming comment about abortion, it did remind me of two other “disarming” relatives who spoke out of turn occasionally – Lillian and Billy Carter.

    While some may see it as a “gotcha” moment, I think it may be more wishful thinking than truth to imply from this comment that he would “of course” rule in this or that case a certain way, unless his 91-year-old mother is also a Constitutional scholar who has some kind of foreknowledge of, and has analyzed the constitutionality of, laws about to go before the court.