Fending off the accusation that he drunkenly assaulted a 15-year-old when he was a teen, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that it was legal to drink alcohol at age 18 for “most of the time” he was in high school.
Technically, that statement is true ― but it certainly wasn’t legal for Kavanaugh, who lived in Maryland. In the summer of 1982, seven months before he turned 18, the state raised the legal drinking age for beer and wine from 18 to 21. (It was already 21 for hard liquor.)
Those who were 18 or older at the time were “grandfathered” in, so they could continue to drink legally. That, however, did not apply to Kavanaugh: He didn’t turn 18 until the following February.
“Yes, we drank beer, my friends and I, boys and girls,” Kavanaugh told the committee. “I liked beer. I still like beer. The drinking age, as I noted, was 18, so the seniors were legal. Senior year in high school, people were legal to drink ... Sometimes probably had too many beers.”
He also told Fox News in his interview Monday: “Yes, there were parties, and yes, the drinking age was 18. And yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there.”
In his introductory remarks before the committee, Kavanaugh said that everything he said on the network could be entered as testimony.
The legal drinking age was 18 in Washington, D.C., throughout the years Kavanaugh attended Georgetown Prep. He could have legally purchased and consumed alcohol in the capital — but only in the last four months of his senior year, after he turned 18.
Most students attending Georgetown Prep lived in Maryland, however. Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault at a house party in suburban Maryland, where she said both Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were “stumbling drunk.” She also testified that she had a beer. (Kavanaugh was 17 at that time; Blasey was 15.)
The White House argued Friday that Kavanaugh’s testimony about drinking was not intended to be misleading, but provided “context” about how Maryland high schoolers obtained beer. Kavanaugh “never suggested that all of his high school drinking was of legal age,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement reported by The Associated Press.
Shah insisted that Kavanaugh had said the legal drinking age was 18 because it “allowed friends to legally purchase beer, and for him to drink at high school parties,” the AP reported.
Under Maryland law, a person under the age of 21 cannot consume or possess alcohol except in certain circumstances, including in a private home with the consent and under the supervision of an adult over the age of 21.
In his memoir, Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk, Judge recounts years of local high school parties and beach getaways involving alcohol. He wrote that he and his friends aimed to consume 100 kegs of beer their senior year. Kavanaugh’s bio in the senior yearbook notes that he was a member of the “Keg City Club (treasurer) — 100 Kegs or Bust.”