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McCain, GOP Senators Challenged On Pay Equity For Women

Click here to listen to the McCain ad

It's been nearly three years since Samuel Alito was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, but now the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way is citing his record as a reason women should vote against John McCain for president.

The warnings come in radio ads just launched, highlighting the equal-pay case of Lilly Ledbetter. Alito wrote the majority opinion last year, when the high court rejected her complaint that she'd been paid less than her male co-workers at a Goodyear tire plant. The majority opinion said she hadn't filed the case in time.

The radio ad says, "Tell John McCain we need judges who will protect fair pay for women — and won't play politics with our paychecks."

Democrats have rallied to Ledbetter's cause. Barack Obama has taken it up. Ledbetter spoke at the Democratic National Convention and recently testified at a Senate hearing.

People for the American Way has similar ads targeting five GOP senators who face tough challenges: Susan Collins of Maine, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, Ted Stevens of Alaska, Gordon Smith of Oregon and John Sununu of New Hampshire. Listen to those ads here.

More on People for the American Way after the jump...

The organization was founded in 1981 by TV producer Norman Lear, the late Time Inc. chair Andrew Heiskell, and the late Democratic congresswoman Barbara Jordan, to counter the rise of the Religious Right. It's currently led by Kathryn Kolbert, who is known for her legal work fighting for abortion rights.

Kolbert has history with Alito. Working for the ACLU and arguing for Planned Parenthood, she won an important abortion case in 1992 after Alito had made a contrary ruling.

Since 2004, People for the American Way's foundation has received $2.6 million from George Soros' Open Society Institute, according to data from the Foundation Center. The advocacy organization and its charitable foundation also received $900,000 from the Miriam G. and Ira D. Wallach Foundation; $810,000 from the family foundation of Lear; $575,000 from the Bauman Family Foundation; and $500,000 from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. People for the American Way has also received some money from labor unions.

To help put this in context: The Bauman foundation also helps bankroll the League of Conservation Voters, Progress Now and Women's Voices. Women Vote.

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