The nomination process for Brett Kavanaugh to become a member of the Supreme Court has been complicated by tales of his alleged bad behavior as a teenager under the influence of alcohol.
Matthew Yglesias’ Vox article “Brett Kavanaugh’s slippery answers about high school partying matter” addresses the inconsistency of Kavanaugh’s claims:
Dogged by an accusation of a sexual assault in high school and pressed to defend his character, Brett Kavanaugh went on Fox News with a curious strategy. Instead of owning up to his high school drinking habits, he told what appear to be lies.
Kavanaugh insinuated that he never drank when he was underage, saying on Fox that when he was a senior, the “drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there.”
Not only is this not true with regard to the legal drinking age in Maryland at the time, it’s also extremely hard to square with the portrait he otherwise paints of himself as a hard-partying kid. Thirty-five years ago he seemed to have joked in his yearbook about being the treasurer of the Keg City Club, and in 2015 he quipped that “what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep.”
Obviously if we disqualified people from high office for having engaged in underage drinking or some youthful drunken antics, we’d have a very hard time staffing the government. The mere fact that Kavanaugh drank to excess in high school is not relevant to whether he is fit to serve on the Supreme Court. And it certainly doesn’t prove that he sexually assaulted anyone.
Drinking to excess is unhealthy and sets the stage for potentially illegal activity, including unsafe driving and violence. However, it’s hardly unforgivable and certainly not proof that Kavanaugh committed any of the serious offenses against women that have been charged. The disparity between Kavanaugh’s statements about his high school activities and the apparent facts, however, does raise a serious question about his honesty.
Whether or not Kavanaugh sexually assaulted his accuser Christine Blasey Ford, the role of under-aged drinking has been brought to the forefront of national consciousnesses by media coverage of his nomination.
As bad as the problem of under-aged drinking in high school may be, such drinking in college seems to be a quantum step worse. As high as one in five women are sexually assaulted on college campuses. The use of alcohol is integral to this kind of abusive behavior.
It has been alleged that an inebriated Kavanaugh was involved in a gang rape in high school and indecent exposure at his Yale fraternity.
The MeToo movement has brought out that there is a national problem with sexual harassment and sexual assault. Time magazine’s 2017 “person of the year” featured victims of sexual assault who “broke the silence.”
Will the publicity on under-aged drinking problems brought about by the Kavanaugh nomination result in a greater awareness of a societal problem as serious as sexual assault involving under-aged drinking? Wouldn’t a campaign to tackle such under-aged drinking be one of the most effective ways to reduce sexual assault?
At institutions of higher education such as the University of Alabama under-aged drinking is strictly prohibited on campus. Such a recognition of the problems associated with under-aged drinking is one step in curtailing sexual assault and other alcohol related problems. More effective community enforcement of the laws that prohibit under-aged drinking in conjunction with the University’s policy is needed to enhance the health and safety of University students.