Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke out about the sports protest movement started by San Francisco 49ers‘ quarterback Colin Kaepernick — where he kneels during the national anthem — calling it “dumb and disrespectful.”
Ginsburg, who has served at her post since 1993, and is a popular figure among liberals, particularly for her advocacy of gender rights in the court, spoke about Kaepernick and other political issues of the day in an interview with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric.
“Would I arrest them for doing it? No,” Ginsburg said about the protests. “I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. 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.”
She joins a list of prominent critics of Kaepernick, who has knelt during the national anthem throughout the 2016 season and preseason for what he described as the mistreatment of “black people and people of color” in America.
Criticism of the protest has been primarily split along ideological lines with conservatives serving as the quarterback’s harshest critics, and civil rights activists, like former NBA star Kareem Abdul Jabbar, backing it.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke in harsh terms about Kaepernick after news of the protests first broke, saying “maybe he should find a country that works better for him,” and President Barack Obama offered tentative support, saying that the player was “exercising his constitutional right.”
Kaepernick’s protest struck a nerve, and spread throughout the NFL and to other sports, launching a public debate about race relations in America. The Beaumont Bulls, an all black youth football team in Beaumont, Tex., for example, joined the protests this year despite members of the team receiving death threats for doing so.
The phenomenon has inspired athletes to be more outspoken about politics in general, something that has proven to be divisive among fans.
Most recently, New York Knicks‘ newly acquired center Joakim Noah sat out a team dinner at the U.S. Military Academy that featured cadets and a speech by a former colonel for what he said are his “anti-war” views, adding new layers to the larger story of sports protest in America.
As for Kaepernick, he continued to push the discussion on race in September, when he called both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump “embarrassing” on the issue.
“Both are proven liars, and it seems like they’re trying to debate who’s less racist. And at this point, you have to pick the lesser of two evils. But in the end, it’s still evil,” Kaepernick said to the media regarding the presidential race.