Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh thanked a private gathering of the Federalist Society in D.C. last week for standing by him during his controversial nomination last year and he pledged to remain unintimidated.

Justice Kavanaugh elected not to address the convention when he attended in 2018 shortly after his confirmation, but decided to use his time onstage on Thursday to thank those who helped see him confirmed to the high court.

He pointedly heaped praise on his school-age friends who stood by him last fall amid accusations of sexual misconduct by him as a teenager. During the bitter confirmation battle, Justice Kavanaugh said, he often repeated to himself the lyrics to the church hymn, “Be Not Afraid,” he heard many times at Georgetown Preparatory School near Bethesda, Maryland.

“My friends paid a heavy price, way too heavy a price,” Justice Kavanaugh said. “In the midst of it all, they stood up and they stood by me.”

He added, “I will always be not afraid.”

Justice Kavanaugh said his message on Thursday was “gratitude,” and he showered thanks on those working in support of his nomination and on his colleagues on the high court. He also shared his appreciation at being able to attend Washington Nationals games during its World Series championship run, and indicated he was as proud a Nationals fan as he was a member of the Federalist Society.

“I’ve been coming to these convention dinners for more than 25 years,” Justice Kavanaugh said. “I have always been a proud [member] of the Federalist Society.”

More than 2,300 attendees shuffled past protesters to squeeze into Union Station and listen to Justice Kavanaugh deliver a keynote address for the group’s annual convention in D.C.

Liberal protesters carried #ImpeachKavanaugh signs bearing the imprint of the liberal advocacy group Demand Justice and shouted at the attendees filing in. The leftist activist group also set up a large screen outside the entrance to Union Station to play a video on loop of Christine Blasey Ford making sexual assault allegations against a teenage Justice Kavanaugh at Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination.

The Federalist Society dinner attendees, hailing from all three branches of the federal government, appeared undaunted by the protesters. The group’s members gave Justice Kavanaugh a standing ovation lasting several minutes as soon as he took the stage.

Two of Justice Kavanaugh’s high court colleagues attended Thursday night’s black-tie affair: Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Samuel A. Alito.

Justice Kavanaugh dined at a table with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn, who both spoke onstage before Justice Kavanaugh.

Mr. McConnell applauded the Federalist Society for its effort in support of President Trump’s judicial picks and noted his motto was to leave no vacancy behind.

“Thank you for all of your work,” Mr. McConnell said to the Federalist Society on Thursday night. “It’s my hope we’ll also look back [on this time] and say, ‘This was just the beginning.'”

Later this week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Justice Gorsuch are scheduled to address Federalist Society members at its convention at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown D.C.

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