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Kavanaugh to deliver major speech to conservative Federalist Society

Kavanaugh to deliver major speech to conservative Federalist Society
© Greg Nash

Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process MORE will make a rare public appearance Thursday night a little over a year after he was accused of assault in a high-profile confirmation battle that battered his image and nearly derailed his appointment to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh, President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE’s second appointment to the nation’s highest court, is set to speak before a friendly audience at the conservative Federalist Society’s annual lawyers convention. According to the justice’s request, the event will not be broadcast and no video cameras will be permitted, but media will be covering the event. He will speak at 9:30 p.m.

It will be Kavanaugh’s first major speech and public appearance since his widely watched appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September of last year. Before the committee, Kavanaugh forcefully denied allegations that he had sexually assaulted a woman in high school and angrily attacked Democratic senators who raised questions about his fitness for the Supreme Court.

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Kavanaugh’s host on Thursday night will be the Federalist Society, the influential organization that has worked to push the judiciary to the right by advocating for conservative judges.

Last year, Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Supreme Court blocks New York coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries MORE, also a Trump appointee, delivered the headline speech as Kavanaugh and two other conservative justices, Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Defusing the judicial confirmation process Will the Supreme Court take ObamaCare off life-support? MORE and Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoConservative justices seem prepared to let Trump proceed with immigrant census plan for now For Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Alito to far-right litigants: The buffet is open MORE, looked on.

The speech will help kick off the group’s annual convention in D.C. at a time when the Supreme Court is becoming more of a political issue, partly thanks to the bitter partisan fight over Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panel On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department 'improperly presented' jobless data Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary MORE (R-Ky.) have touted the confirmations of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and a slew of other conservatives judges to the federal bench as a signature achievement ahead of the 2020 election.

Progressives have not forgotten the controversy. The liberal judicial activist group Demand Justice is targeting Facebook with ads blasting the company for sponsoring the Federalist Society’s event.

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“Facebook should not be sponsoring the rehabbing of Brett Kavanaugh’s reputation when Dr. Blasey Ford remains unable to resume a normal life after bravely coming forward last year,” Katie O’Connor, a senior counsel for Demand Justice, said in a statement.

“You can claim to respect survivors of sexual assault or you can pay for a celebration of Brett Kavanaugh, but you can’t do both," O'Connor added. "Any organization that doesn’t want to be complicit in normalizing Kavanaugh should withdraw its support from The Federalist Society and pledge not to give in the future.”

Asked to respond to the ad campaign, a Facebook spokesman provided a statement the company put out in response to an earlier story about its sponsorship of the event by the blog Popular Information.

“This reporting purposely focuses on Facebook's support for one organization to distract from our lengthy track record of supporting groups from across the political spectrum," the spokesman said in the statement.

The social media platform is one of just four corporate sponsors in the event’s “gold level” top ring of contributors — the other three are Chevron, Cognizant Technologies and the asset management firm Point72. Neither Facebook nor the Federalist Society would respond when asked how much gold level sponsors contributed.

It’s not clear what Kavanaugh will say to the gathering of conservative legal activists, but it’s almost certain he’ll be welcomed with open arms. When he appeared at the dinner last year in the wake of his confirmation battle, he was given a lengthy standing ovation.

Updated at 2:24 p.m.