Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem “dumb and disrespectful” during an interview with Katie Couric, global anchor for Yahoo News.
While slamming Kaepernick’s and other NFL players’ protests as “ridiculous,” Ginsburg was careful to note that though she is personally offended by their actions, it is “dangerous” to arrest or punish people for actions that do not ultimately endanger the safety or well-being of fellow citizens.
Ginsburg, a prominent voice on the Court’s liberal wing, conflated Kaepernick’s actions with those of people who burn the American flag.
“I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it,” Ginsburg said.
“If they want to be stupid, there’s no law that should be preventive. If they want to be arrogant, there’s no law that prevents them from that,” she continued. “What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that.”
Kaepernick started a media firestorm earlier this year when he refused to stand for the national anthem before a game, citing opposition to the United States’ perceived mistreatment of people of colour.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an interview after the first time he did not stand for the national anthem.
His comments drew both praise and criticism, with critics calling his actions disrespectful and offensive to the United States.
Ginsburg was also asked, during the interview, about the constitutionality of banning an entire religion from entering the US, as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has proposed.
Ginsburg declined to comment on the matter, noting, “I think the question you ask is a question that could come before this court. I can’t answer a hypothetical question when it may turn into a real question. I can’t preview my decision.”
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