Hot SheetSupreme Court

6 takeaways from the NY Times profile of Kavanaugh’s Colo. accuser

Author: Erin Prater - September 26, 2018 - Updated: September 27, 2018

In this Sept. 6 file photo made with a slow shutter speed and a zoom lens, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, for the third day of his confirmation hearing. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A Tuesday piece in The New York Times draws a contrast between the Ivy League experiences of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Coloradan Deborah Ramirez.

Ramirez, a 53-year-old from Boulder who works with domestic violence victims, alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrusting his penis in her face, during the 1983-84 academic year at Yale University.

Titled “In a Culture of Privilege and Alcohol at Yale, Her World Converged With Kavanaugh’s,” The Times piece paints Ramirez as somewhat of a wide-eyed, brainy misfit who toiled at the dining hall and cleaned dorm rooms — tasks usually reserved for those who struggled to make tuition payments — and Kavanaugh as an affluent, carefree socialite who easily transitioned from an elite high school to the rarefied air of liberal Yale.

What follows is a “CliffsNotes” version of the piece.


Activists opposed to President Donald Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, demonstrate on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 24. Trump is staunchly defending Kavanaugh against a new allegation of sexual misconduct, calling the accusations “totally political.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

1. Whom to support? Yale students and alumni are split.
Ramirez’s accusation “has roiled an already tumultuous confirmation process and riven the Yale community,” The Times reports. More than 2,000 Yale women have signed a letter of support for Ramirez, and a similar letter has been signed by nearly 700 men. But others side with Kavanaugh. Before Ramirez’s accusations were reported Sunday by The New Yorker, “more than 100 Yale students, alumni and faculty members endorsed his nomination to the high court in an open letter.” An additional 23 penned a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging his confirmation.


“Old Campus” on the grounds of Yale University. (Photo courtesy of Scooter12, Wikipedia)


2. Both Kavanaugh and Ramirez lived in the same area on campus.
The alleged incident occurred during the 1983-84 school year when both Ramirez and Kavanaugh arrived on campus. Both lived “on Old Campus, a quadrangle of Gothic architecture on the Yale grounds,” as did most first-year students.


A picture posted by Deborah Ramirez’s alma mater, St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Connecticut, in 2016. (Photo courtesy of the school via Facebook)


3. Ramirez came from humble beginnings.
Prior to her days at Yale, she lived a half hour away in Shelton, Connecticut, and attended St. Joseph, a nearby co-ed Catholic high school that included a fair number of minorities. She was “the daughter of a telephone company lineman and a medical technician” who worked on her high school’s newspaper and belonged to a literary club, The Times reports. While shy, she was a stand-out student, and her acceptance at Yale was not a surprise, a friend remembered.

The entrance to the Georgetown Preparatory School Bethesda, Md., is shown Sept. 19. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

4. Kavanaugh, not so much.
He attended high school at Georgetown Prep, an elite all-male Jesuit boarding school in the suburbs of Washington, where “his parents moved in the capital’s political circles.” His mother was a judge, his father a lobbyist. “At Yale, he seemed to settle in quickly with a crowd not unlike his high school friends,” according to The Times.

5. Kavanaugh’s fraternity was known for its hard partying — and misogyny, according to some.
Delta Kappa Epsilon was a “huge party fraternity,” The Times quotes a classmate as saying. Some members of DKE “paraded around campus displaying women’s underwear they had filched.” The newspaper quotes a 1986 opinion piece in The Yale Daily News as stating that pledges were known to saunter around campus reading Penthouse magazine and yelling phrases like, “I’m a butt-hole, sir.” Along those lines,

One woman remembers Judge Kavanaugh’s wearing a leather football helmet while drinking and approaching her on campus the night he was tapped for DKE. She described his grabbing his crotch, hopping on one leg and chanting: “I’m a geek, I’m a geek, I’m a power tool. When I sing this song, I look like a fool.”

6. Ramirez’s politics have evolved since her Yale days.

She recently lost touch with some of her closer college friends, “in part because she became more politically liberal and conscious of her Latino roots and no longer felt as comfortable among her Yale cohort,” the newspaper quotes friends as saying.

7. Ramirez is incapable of fabricating her recent accusation, friends say.
“She was bright-eyed and guileless, compared to the sophisticated and often aggressive population you find at Yale,” a college friend told the newspaper. “The idea that she would make something like this up is inconceivable.”

Erin Prater

Erin Prater

Erin Prater is Colorado Politics' digital editor. She is a multimedia journalist with 15 years of experience writing, editing and designing for newspapers, magazines, websites and publishing houses. Her previous positions include military reporter at The Gazette, general assignment reporter at The Huerfano County (Colo.) World, copy editor at David C. Cook publishing house and adjunct mass communication instructor at Pueblo Community College. Her bylines include The New York Times Upfront, The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Military Spouse magazine and Omaha Magazine (Omaha, Neb.). Her syndicated bylines include The Denver Post,, and wire services.