The Closer You Look, the Worse Brett Kavanaugh’s Relationship with Mark Judge Appears

The Intercept
September 25, 2018

A QUESTION THAT sounds innocuous — did Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge drink and party together at Georgetown Preparatory School? — has become key to figuring out whether an inebriated Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl as Judge watched and laughed in 1982. The short answer is that a number of data points connect Judge and Kavanaugh (now a Supreme Court nominee), as not just friends but as partners in binge drinking at raucous house parties attended by girls from other private schools.

The connections include a reference to Kavanaugh in a memoir Judge wrote, mutual shout-outs on their yearbook pages, a football team they played on together, and mentions by both of blackout levels of drinking at Georgetown Prep, their all-boys Catholic school in Bethesda, Maryland. Other than denying the assault allegation from Christine Blasey Ford, neither Judge nor Kavanaugh has said much about their after-school activities. Judge, tracked down to a beach house in Delaware, merely said to a Washington Post reporter, “How did you find me?” Kavanaugh, in an interview with Fox News, said, “I was focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday at Little Flower, working on my service projects, and friendship with my fellow classmates and friendship with girls from the local all-girls Catholic schools.”

The relationship between the two men is crucial because while little is known for sure about Kavanaugh’s behavior at Georgetown Prep, quite a bit is known about Judge’s. Not only has Judge written two memoirs about his early years, but people who know his conduct have also begun talking about it. The latest information comes from a former girlfriend who told the New Yorker that Judge confessed to her that while in high school, he and other boys took turns having sex with a drunk woman.

One of Judge’s books, “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk,” describes his carousing and troublemaking as communal; he was always with his high school buddies. His evident closeness with Kavanaugh would suggest a likelihood that Kavanaugh indulged in some of the behavior that Judge has admitted to — a pattern of aggressive and drunken conduct, especially toward girls in their social circle, that’s consistent with Ford’s description of an inebriated sexual assault at a house party, as well as a new allegation of sexual assault from one of Kavanaugh’s classmates at Yale.

Putting aside the assault accusations, while high school and college partying by no means disqualifies one from public or professional life, Kavanaugh’s approach to it appears to have been far more aggressive than was normal at the time, and in complete contrast with the virtuous, studious, church-going image he has presented publicly. That contradiction goes directly to his credibility, which is the central question facing his and any nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Yearbook
On their respective senior pages in the 1983 Georgetown Prep yearbook, Kavanaugh and Judge make several references to each other and to conjoined activities. They were on the football team together, and both reference “100 kegs,” which Judge in “Wasted” described as the target for the senior class’s drinking total. Other references are more cryptic. Each asks the other the same question — “Have you boofed yet?” — and each reference surviving “FFFFFFFourth of July” or “FFFFFourth of July” (a different number of Fs in each). And both refer on their pages to not knowing the final result of the same basketball game, in the context of apparently being too inebriated to recall; as Kavanaugh wrote on his page, “Georgetown vs. Louisville — Who Won That Game Anyway?”

Kavanaugh and Judge also make references to the Rehoboth Beach Police Department. Judge wrote in “Wasted” that at the end of the school year, students from private schools in their neighborhood would convene for a week of partying in beach towns like Ocean City and Rehoboth, and that it was routine for police to confront the students. Beach week, Judge wrote, was a “bacchanalia of drinking and sex, or at least attempts at sex.” During one of the parties, he continued, “Guys began slam dancing, tackling each other, and drowning themselves in beer. … We lit each other’s underwear on fire, had beer fights, and barfed in the sink. A couple of guys took pictures of their penises.” Kavanaugh, on his page, referenced “Beach Week Ralph Club” — an apparent reference to throwing up — and described himself as “Biggest Contributor.”

While Kavanaugh and his supporters have portrayed the allegations against him as not just false, but out of sync with his personality, Judge painted a general portrait of boys in his circle treating girls as objects. One of the cryptic joint references on their pages — describing themselves as alumni of “Renate”— turns out to underscore how Kavanaugh and Judge degraded girls they knew. The New York Times recently revealed that “Renate” referred to a girl, Renate Schroeder, who attended a nearby Catholic girls school and who told the Times that the references to her (there were at least 14 throughout the yearbook) had insinuated relations with the boys that weren’t true. A lawyer for Kavanaugh said his reference was due to a kiss they shared after an event, but Schroeder responded that they had never kissed.

“I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue,” she told the Times. “I pray their daughters are never treated this way.”

Kavanaugh’s page also includes an altered quote from Benjamin Franklin that appeared to be a play on Judge’s last name, and it seemed to suggest that these two friends had secrets they should not share with others. The altered quote was this: “He that would live in peace and at ease must not speak all he knows, nor JUDGE all he sees.”

The Book
There is at least one apparent reference to Kavanaugh in Judge’s book, and it involves excessive drinking.

The passage takes place in the summer of their sophomore year. Judge had joined his first beach week, in Ocean City, Maryland, where one of his classmates had rented an oceanfront house. The houses on either side were occupied by girls from Catholic schools. During a party one night, while playing a drinking game called quarters, Judge struck up a conversation with a girl named Mary.
“So how do you like Prep?” Mary asked.

“It’s cool.”

“Do you know Bart O’Kavanaugh?”

“Yeah. He’s around here somewhere.”

“I heard he puked in someone’s car the other night.”

“Yeah. He passed out on his way back from a party.”

Judge wrote that he used pseudonyms for people in his book to protect their privacy. Bart is a nickname that Judge appeared to use for Brett Kavanaugh on his yearbook page.

Judge and Aggression
Judge has been linked to a variety of aggressions against women. In “Wasted,” he described how friends told him he had drunkenly lunged at a bridesmaid during a wedding, and he worried afterward that he might have hurt her. He wrote about being concerned, after blacking out following a drinking binge with a woman at a bar, that he might have murdered her in his inebriated state. He also wrote about his reaction to learning a former girlfriend was getting married — he shouted at her on the phone, “Goddammit you bitch, fuck you and your fucking husband.”

As the Washington Post reported, Judge delivered a bitterly homophobic wish to an editor who turned down stories he wanted to write about swing dancing. It was 1998, when Judge was freelancing for Washington City Paper, and the editor was Brad McKee. According to the Post, Judge “blew up at him after the rejections. McKee, who is gay, said Judge sent a vituperative email wishing him the same fate as Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who was beaten and left to die in Wyoming in 1998.” The Post quoted McKee as saying, “He shows signs of true hatred.”

The list of Judge’s aggressions is not short. On his yearbook page, Judge reprinted a line from playwright Noël Coward: “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.” The Washington Post quoted one of his classmates, Maryland state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., as describing Judge as “an unhappy person who was happy to make other people unhappy. ‘Bully’ may be an overused term, but he regularly belittled people he perceived as being lower on the high school hierarchy.”

New Allegation Against Kavanaugh
The latest allegation against Kavanaugh appears to be in line with the kind of offensive behavior that Judge has been connected to. According to the New Yorker, Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh, has told Senate investigators that during their freshman year in New Haven, Kavanaugh “had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.”

Kavanaugh’s Yale roommate in the fall of 1983, James Roche, has backed up Ramirez. In a statement posted on Twitter, Roche said that “although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and … he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.” Roche described Ramirez as “unusually honest and straightforward and I cannot imagine her making this up. Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described.”

Last night, Kavanaugh declared his complete innocence in a televised interview on Fox News, saying, “I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect. … I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise.” And in a statement to the New Yorker, he said, “I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name — and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building — against these last-minute allegations.”

Author: Peter Maass

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In 1983, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, I went to Brussels as a copy editor for The Wall Street Journal/Europe. I left the Journal in 1985 to write for The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, covering NATO and the European Union. In 1987 I moved to Seoul, South Korea, where I wrote primarily for The Washington Post. After three years in Asia I moved to Budapest to cover Eastern Europe and the Balkans. I spent most of 1992 and 1993 covering the war in Bosnia for the Post.