Brett Kavanaugh made the following assertion about his high school social life during a Monday night Fox News interview:
And yes, there were parties. And the drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there. And yes, people might have had too many beers on occasion and people generally in high school—I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit, but that’s not what we’re talking about.
The context here is a little complicated. The above was part of Kavanaugh’s response to a question Fox’s Martha MacCallum asked him about a claim by Democratic attorney-slash-famehound Michael Avenatti that when Kavanaugh was in high school, at Georgetown Prep in suburban D.C., he engaged in the premeditated “targeting” of women with alcohol in order to take advantage of them sexually. That particular charge is vague and uncorroborated; Avenatti, who did not go to high school in the same area or at the same time as Kavanaugh, has not said what basis he has for making it.
At the same time, though, the most detailed accusation of misconduct against Kavanaugh—Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that he forced her into a bedroom and sexually assaulted her at a party in the summer of 1982—includes the allegation that he was “stumbling drunk” when he did so. (He would have been 17 at the time; he began his senior year that fall.) A Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Deborah Ramirez, says he crudely exposed his penis to her while drunk at a party during their freshman year. Kavanaugh’s roommate at the time of the alleged Ramirez incident says Kavanaugh was “frequently, incoherently drunk” when they knew each other and that he became “aggressive and belligerent” when intoxicated.
So, Avenatti aside, there are real reasons to wonder if Kavanaugh had a problematic relationship with alcohol when he was a teenager. In that light, his brush-off about drinking being legal for seniors is worth examining. For one, it appears that drinking was not legal for high school seniors when Kavanaugh was one: Maryland law was amended in July 1982 to make the drinking age 21 for anyone who hadn’t turned 18 by the time the law passed. Kavanaugh didn’t turn 18 until February 1983, and it seems unlikely that most of his classmates were 18 well before their senior years either.
This drinking wasn’t a big deal for us approach is also of a piece with Kavanaugh’s broader claim of having been much more interested in church, as a young man, than he was in partying:
When I was in high school—and I went to an all boys’ Catholic high school, a Jesuit high school, where I was focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday at Little Flower, working on my service projects, and friendship, friendship with my fellow classmates and friendship with girls from the local all girls’ Catholic schools.
Another one of his answers:
I was focused on trying to be number one in my class and being captain of the varsity basketball team and doing my service projects, going to church. The vast majority of the time I spent in high school was studying or focused on sports and being a good friend to the boys and the girls that I was friends with.
This from an individual who chuckled in a 2015 speech that his alma mater’s unofficial motto was “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep”—and whose senior yearbook entry listed him as the “Treasurer” of the “Keg City Club” and the “Biggest Contributor” to the “Beach Week Ralph Club.” Come on, man! We all also went to high school.
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