U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in his first major public appearance since joining the court 13 months ago, spoke before an adulatory crowd of Federalist Society members Thursday night, thanking them, his friends, family and fellow justices for helping him get through his confirmation proceedings and his first year on the court.

“My theme, in a word, is gratitude,” Kavanaugh said before nearly 3,000 society members, the largest gathering in the conservative organization’s 37 years of existence. Kavanaugh said his “lifetime mission” will be “to thank my friends over and over again.”

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