Fox News Channel is refusing to air a commercial critical of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, citing its lawyers' contention that the spot is factually incorrect.
A spokesman for the groups sponsoring the ad said the network's decision reflects the political right's effort to shield President Bush's choice for the high court.
The ad says that as an appellate court judge, Alito has "ruled to make it easier for corporations to discriminate . . . even voted to approve strip search of a 10-year-old girl." Referring to a document Alito wrote in 1985 while seeking a job in the Reagan administration, it quotes him as saying that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."
The groups backing the ad include the Alliance for Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People for the American Way and abortion rights organizations.
"It's not about ideology, it's about quality and honesty," Irena Briganti, a Fox News spokeswoman, said. Fox's Paul Schur added that according to the network's lawyers, the ad is "factually incorrect and we've given them an opportunity to fix it."
The strip search referred to a 2004 decision by the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in the case of four police officers who faced a lawsuit after the search of a mother and her 10-year-old daughter in the course of executing a search warrant for narcotics.
The court said "a search warrant for a premises does not constitute a license to search everyone inside."
Alito dissented, saying the best reading of the warrant was that it authorized the search of anyone found on the premises. He added that even if the warrant didn't explicitly give that authorization, "a reasonable police officer could certainly have read the warrant as doing so."