SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had harsh words for Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.
In an interview for ESPN, Katie Couric asked the 83-year-old associate justice what she thinks of the trend that started last August when 49ers quarterback Kaepernick was caught on camera sitting down as the anthem played before a preseason game.
“I think its really dumb of them. Would I arrest them for doing it? No.”
Kaepernick said he refuses to stand to protest police killings of unarmed blacks across the nation. He insisted he did not intend to disparage the men and women in the armed services, though, and has since started kneeling during the anthem, in an effort to show them respect. Fellow players in the NFL and other sports have joined the silent protest, echoing similar acts of defiance in the name of civil rights and equality by athletes of color since the 1960s.
But Ginsberg, considered by many to be part of the high court’s liberal wing and a staunch defender of womens’ rights, isn’t having any of it.
“I think it’s dumb and disrespectful,” she said. “I’d 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.”
Still, however offensive she finds the act, she carefully defended Kaepernick’s right as an American to exercise his First Amendment right to free speech, as long as it poses no risk of harming anyone else.
“I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act. But it’s dangerous to arrest people for conduct that doesn’t jeopardize the health or well-being of other people. It’s a symbol they’re engaged in,” she said.
“If they want to be stupid, there is no law that should be preventive. If they want to be arrogant, there’s no law that prevents them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view they are expressing when they do that.”