Kavanaugh says it was legal for seniors to drink when he was in high school, but Maryland's drinking age was raised to 21 when he was 17

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesBrett Kavanaugh was 17 in 1982, when Maryland increased the minimum legal drinking age to 21.
  • All three women who have accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in high school and college said he was intoxicated during the alleged incidents.
  • Kavanaugh said during a Monday interview that the minimum legal drinking age was 18 back then.
  • But in 1982, when Kavanaugh was 17, Maryland – where he grew up and attended high school – changed the minimum legal drinking age to 21 from 18. Therefore, any drinking that Kavanaugh did in the state of Maryland during high school was illegal.

Central to the sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh are the parallel accusations that Kavanaugh was intoxicated while he committed the alleged wrongdoing.

During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Kavanaugh insisted that he has never been a heavy drinker, despite multiple allegations from his accusers and former classmates that he became “aggressive” and “belligerant” when he drank excessively, which he did regularly in high school and college.

According to multiple accounts, Kavanaugh was an eager participant in a hard-partying culture at his elite all-boys high school, Georgetown Preparatory, and at Yale University, where he was a member of a fraternity and an all-male secret society, Truth and Courage, nicknamed “Tit and Clit.”

At one point during a Monday interview with Fox News, Kavanaugh addressed Georgetown Prep’s drinking culture.

“Yes, there were parties, and yes, the drinking age was 18,”Kavanaugh told the Fox host Martha MacCallum. “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 Maryland’s minimum legal drinking age for beer and wine was changed to 21 from 18 in July 1982, during the summer before Kavanaugh’s senior year. It was already 21 for hard liquor. Therefore, any drinking that Kavanaugh did in the state of Maryland during high school was illegal.

Residents who had turned 18 by that time were grandfathered in and allowed to drink legally. Kavanaugh was 17 at the time.

In 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act made the minimum legal drinking age 21 nationwide.

Kavanaugh appeared to correct his assertion about the drinking age during his Senate testimony on Thursday, during which he repeated his claim that he never never drank so much that he could not recall what happened while he was drunk (known as “blacking out”).

“The drinking age was 18 in Maryland for most of my time in high school, and was 18 in D.C. for all of my time in high school,” he said, adding, “I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out, and I never sexually assaulted anyone.”

James Roche, Kavanaugh’s college roommate, told The New Yorker he remembered Kavanaugh being “frequently, incoherently drunk” and said it was plausible that Kavanaugh exposed himself to a Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, who alleges that he thrust his penis in her face against her will while he was inebriated.

“Is it believable that she was alone with a wolfy group of guys who thought it was funny to sexually torment a girl like Debbie? Yeah, definitely,” Roche said, referring to Ramirez, whom he described as a close friend in college. “Is it believable that Kavanaugh was one of them? Yes.”

Kavanaugh has denied all of the sexual misconduct allegations against him, calling them “smears, pure and simple” and “grotesque and obvious character assassination.”

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