Justice Ginsburg apologizes to Colin Kaepernick after criticizing anthem protest

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WASHINGTON — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said on Friday she was “inappropriately dismissive and harsh” in a recent interview when she said she thought it was “really dumb” for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others to refuse to stand for the national anthem.

In a statement released by the court’s public information officer, Ginsburg said she had been “barely aware of the incident or its purpose” and that she should have “declined to respond” when asked the question by Yahoo’s Katie Couric.

“Some of you have inquired about a book interview in which I was asked how I felt about Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who refused to stand for the national anthem,” Ginsburg said. “Barely aware of the incident or its purpose, my comments were inappropriately dismissive and harsh. I should have declined to respond.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Kaepernick and other athletes at all levels have been refusing to stand for national anthem to protest racial injustice and police violence against African-Americans.

Friday marks the second time in recent months the 83-year-old Ginsburg has issued a statement regretting comments she made to reporters.

Last July, Ginsburg issued a statement saying she regretted remarks she made to CNN and other news outlets criticizing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. In an interview with Joan Biskupic, CNN’s legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer, Ginsburg had extensively criticized Trump as a” faker.”

“On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them,” Ginsburg said then. “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future, I will be more circumspect.”

Of Kaepernick, Ginsburg told Couric, “I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”

Colin Kaepernick (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Kaepernick, said Tuesday it was “disappointing to hear a Supreme Court justice call a protest against injustices and oppression ‘stupid, dumb.'”

“I was reading an article and it refers to white critique of black protests and how they try to de-legitimize it by calling it ‘idiotic, dumb, stupid,’ things of that nature, so they can sidestep the real issue,” he told reporters Tuesday, according to the San Jose Mercury News. “As I was reading that I saw more and more truth how this has been approached by people in power and white people in power in particular.”

Her comments surprised some of her legions of fans who have dubbed the justice “the Notorious RBG” for her work on the Supreme Court on issues such as gender discrimination, gay marriage, abortion and affirmative action.

After the interview with Couric, the authors of the “Notorious R.B.G Tumblr,” a site dedicated to Ginsburg, posted a comment saying they “respectfully” disagreed with her remarks regarding athletes’ “peaceful protest.”

It is rare for a member of the court to issue a statement of regret, and it comes as Ginsburg launches a book tour for “My Own Words” a collection of her speeches and opinions.

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