By Pete Williams Justice correspondent
NBC News
updated 11/17/2005 7:22:21 PM ET 2005-11-18T00:22:21

Depending on which TV ad you watch, Samuel Alito is part of a right-wing effort to take over the Supreme Court, or his opponents support burning the flag and taking "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Liberal and conservative groups said Thursday they're launching TV ads to run over the next week that are intended to focus closer attention on the coming confirmation hearings of Alito, nominated to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

Liberal groups will run national cable television advertisements, supplemented by broadcast and cable ads in Maine and Rhode Island, targeting Republican moderates.

Conservative groups will place cable ads in seven states — Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and West Virginia — aimed at moderate Democrats.

The liberal group ad ends with a reference to the White House and says, "The right wing has already taken over the West Wing. Don't let them take over your Supreme Court."

‘Strip search of a 10-year-old girl’
It says during his 15 years as a federal judge, Alito "voted to approve the strip search of a 10-year-old girl."

But supporters of Alito say the ad mischaracterizes his vote last year in a case involving a 1998 police search at the home of a suspected drug dealer. 

Fearing the man's wife and daughter might have been asked to hide drugs, a female officer took the two to an upstairs bathroom and asked them to lift their shirts, drop their pants and turn around.

The question for Alito and two other federal judges was whether the man and his wife could sue the police officers for conducting an illegal search. In an opinion written by Michael Chertoff, who has since become U.S. secretary of homeland security, the answer was yes. Alito said no.

The decision turned on a technical legal point about whether the search warrant obtained by police explicitly authorized searching anyone other than the suspected drug dealer. Alito was alone in saying it did. But even if it didn't, he wrote, "a reasonable police officer could certainly have read the warrant as doing so." The police, he wrote, should therefore have been immune from being sued.

Law enforcement group’s endorsement
In endorsing Alito on Thursday, a law enforcement group said the case of a Philadelphia kindergartner found to be carrying bags of heroin this week shows that drug dealers have "no qualms about using kids to hide drugs."

But liberal groups say the case illustrates Alito's insensitivity to the individuals involved in cases he decided. Their ad also says his rulings "made it easier for corporations to discriminate."

In their television ad, conservatives attack Alito's opponents, including People For the American Way. But that group says the conservative ad includes a mistake, too.

"Their agenda is clear," the ad says. "They want to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance and are fighting to redefine traditional marriage." It says Alito's opponents "support partial-birth abortion and sanction the burning of the American flag."

A spokesman for People for the American Way says the group has never advocated taking "under God" out of the pledge. However, a lawyer for the group did express support for a lawsuit that would have banned public schools from leading children in reciting the pledge.

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