Jurisprudence

Mark Judge Must Be Called to the Stand

Senate Republicans are refusing to call Christine Blasey Ford’s second alleged attacker, perhaps because he’s a terrible character witness for Brett Kavanaugh.

Brett Kavanaugh.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in before his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 4
Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold hearings starting Monday with Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school. Both Ford and Kavanaugh appear likely to testify, but they are not the only witnesses who should be called to the stand. As a number of legal pundits noted, there is a third person who must be questioned by the committee: Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmate, Mark Judge, who Ford said was allegedly involved in the attack.

Ford says the two men trapped her in a bedroom during a party in Maryland in the early 1980s. She was around 15 and Kavanaugh, who was around 17, allegedly pinned her to a bed and tried to strip off her bathing suit, covering her mouth when she tried to scream for help. Eventually, Judge pounced on top of both of them, by Ford’s recollection, causing chaos that allowed her to escape. Both teenagers were “stumbling drunk,” according to Ford.

When approached for an interview by the New Yorker on Friday, Judge said that he had “no recollection” of the incident. He then proclaimed Kavanaugh’s innocence in more detailed responses to the Weekly Standard and the New York Times later in the day, all of this occurring while the accusation was still anonymous. After Ford went on the record to the Washington Post on Sunday, Judge then reverted back to his initial statement that he didn’t remember the incident and asked to be left alone. “I repeat my earlier statement that I have no recollection of any of the events described in today’s Post article or attributed to [Ford’s] letter [detailing the accusation],” Judge told the Weekly Standard on Sunday. “Since I have nothing more to say I will not comment further on this matter. I hope you will respect my position and my privacy.”

If the Judiciary Committee is going to conduct anything resembling a fair inquiry into the matter, it must call Judge to testify and subpoena him if necessary. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Tuesday that only Ford and Kavanaugh would be called to testify. But Judge is in a unique position to provide testimony on the incident in question, and he’s uniquely positioned to comment on the aftermath. In a written statement describing the alleged assault, Ford also wrote that she once saw Judge after the incident and “he was extremely uncomfortable seeing me.”

In addition to these questions, Judge could expand on his own relationship with Kavanaugh—he could, for example, elucidate the plausibility of an episode in which both of them would have been “stumbling drunk” at such a party together. Kavanaugh, for his part, has categorically denied the incident and said that he wasn’t at the party in question, even though Ford herself has not offered a precise date or location.

Why wouldn’t they call this witness to the stand? Republicans on the committee might be hesitating to call Judge because, based on his public writings, he would make a terrible character witness on behalf of Kavanaugh. That’s because Judge appears to be in a position to show that Kavanaugh’s high school days did involve heavy drinking.

In 1997, Judge published a memoir about his own experience with alcoholism in high school, titled Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk. In that book, which makes frequent use of pseudonyms, he talked about an incident involving a figure named “Bart O’Kavanaugh” who “puked in someone’s car the other night” and “passed out on his way back from a party.” Judge also described a contest among his classmates that involved finishing 100 kegs prior to graduation. This appears to be a reference to real life: Kavanaugh’s own yearbook entry lists him as treasurer of “Keg City Club — 100 Kegs or Bust.” Judge’s yearbook page similarly made reference to “100 KEGS or Bust.” There are other clues about the two men’s friendship in the yearbook. Kavanaugh’s senior yearbook page has a line saying “Judge—Have You Boofed Yet?” and Judge has one saying “Bart, have you boofed yet?” (That same yearbook page for Judge includes the quote: “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.”) Kavanaugh has discussed his college drinking days in the past with the Federalist Society.

This is not to shame either man for drinking in high school, or in college. Rather, it is to acknowledge that there’s a swath of already-public evidence that seems to pertain directly to the incident at hand. The purpose of examining this history could help us gauge the consistency of both Judge and Kavanaugh’s testimony and weigh it against Ford’s. Both need to be asked under oath about their drinking together to see whether any inconsistencies emerge. For her part, Ford’s own lawyer has cited this behavior as relevant evidence. “My client had a beer. She was not stumbling drunk,” attorney Debra Katz told CBS on Monday. “The men were stumbling drunk, and one only needs to look at the writings of Mark Judge—who was the other person present—to know that he wrote about how stumbling drunk he and other members of Georgetown Prep were repeatedly, routinely.”

There is other public writing from Judge that is potentially relevant to his testimony. It happens that Judge, who deleted his Twitter account after Ford came forward, is a published author who has written and tweeted extensively about sex, sexual assault, and masculinity. For example, according to archives of a blog post he wrote for GotNews.com, Judge was initially skeptical of the Rolling Stone sexual assault story at the University of Virginia, writing that it was unbelievable because the woman at the center of the case did not “scream” and that none of the made-up assailants had “had an attack of conscience.” Judge was proven correct about the report being untrue. This writing, though, indicates that Judge himself understands the necessity of hearing sworn testimony from the accuser and the accused.

In a piece written for Acculturated in 2013, Judge seemed to approvingly cite the trope of shaming victims of sexual assault for how they dressed. Indeed, in responding to an essayist’s argument that feminist men ought to interpret a woman’s actions before pursuing them, he writes, “If a woman at her computer in Starbucks is, as Jarune [Uwujaren] argues, sending out several signals simply by the way she is sitting, then women who dress like prostitutes are also sending out signals.” (He acknowledges that the signal is “not that they should be raped.”)

Judge elaborated on his views in a 2015 post for Splice Today:

Of course, a man must be able to read a woman’s signals, and it’s a good thing that feminism is teaching young men that no means no and yes means yes. But there’s also that ambiguous middle ground, where the woman seems interested and indicates, whether verbally or not, that the man needs to prove himself to her. And if that man is any kind of man, he’ll allow himself to feel the awesome power, the wonderful beauty, of uncontrollable male passion.

Judge has also written homophobic comments suggesting gay people were “perverts” and has complained that they had overrun the now defunct political news site TBD.com. He once wrote a misogynistic column for the Daily Caller describing Barack Obama as the “first female president” and describing Michelle Obama as “actually more man than her husband.” In that story, Judge said he longed “for the days when president George W. Bush gave his wife Laura a loving but firm pat on the backside in public,” noting “the man knew who was boss.” On top of this, his deleted YouTube page, according to Splinter, featured “sexualized videos of young women.”

Even beyond his writing, there is reason why Republicans eager to see Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court might be reluctant to use Judge as a witness. Judge’s own brother has in the past described him as an unreliable narrator. Responding to an article in the Washingtonian in 1997 that Judge wrote, which portrayed their father in a negative light, his brother Michael wrote to the Washingtonian: “Mark is a solipsist: spoiled as a child, gazing always inward, unable to recognize any pain but his own.”

And finally, there is this story about Judge’s treatment of his colleague at Washington City Paper, where he occasionally contributed as a freelance writer. (Multiple other members of the City Paper described a similar account, which seemed to also line up with an episode Judge has written about himself.)

None of this is to say that Kavanaugh ought to be held responsible for Judge’s past writings or social media postings; he should not be. But on Monday, the Senate will be tasked with figuring out what exactly happened in that bedroom all those years ago, and Mark Judge is a critical witness to call to the stand. His past public work is a relevant body that should be taken into account, as it speaks to his credibility as a witness in a sexual assault probe. The stakes of next week’s hearing—a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land—demand an effort to seek the truth not just from Ford and Kavanaugh, but from Judge as well.