Kavanaugh to deliver major speech to conservative Federalist Society

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

Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughHow Citizens United altered America's political landscape Overnight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Progressive group targets Collins over vote for Kavanaugh in new digital ad campaign 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 TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 GorsuchJanuary reminds us why courts matter — and the dangers of 'Trump judges' Planned Parenthood launches M campaign to back Democrats in 2020 Appeals court appears wary of letting Trump reinstate death sentences MORE, also a Trump appointee, delivered the headline speech as Kavanaugh and two other conservative justices, Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasSanders campaign official: Biden 'actively courted pro-segregation senators' to block black students from white schools Electability is key to Democrats' 2020 fortunes Congress grants military members partial victory, but Feres Doctrine survives MORE and Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoAppeals court appears wary of letting Trump reinstate death sentences Justices grapple with 'Bridgegate' convictions Justice Roberts neglects his own role in tilting American democracy 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 McConnellTrump admin releases trove of documents on Ukrainian military aid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions What to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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.