U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes a dim view of the way San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other pro athletes are protesting before games by refusing to stand for the national anthem.
“I think it’s really dumb,” Ginsburg said during a sit-down interview with Yahoo’s Katie Couric on Monday. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. It’s dumb and disrespectful.”
Ginsburg added that she has the same reaction to flag burning: “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 that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that.”
Couric asked if Ginsburg found the protest offensive but believed the athletes were acting well within their rights, and the justice agreed.
“It’s dangerous to arrest people for conduct that doesn’t jeopardize the health and well-being of other people,” she added.
In August, Kaepernick became one of the most visible pro athletes to make a statement about police brutality and the systemic oppression of people of color when he began opting to sit or kneel during the national anthem.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in August.
A string of professional and amateur athletes ― and their supporters ― have followed suit, including U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall and the East Carolina University marching band.
Kaepernick has been both praised for his willingness to spotlight an important issue even if it damages him professionally and financially, and vilified for behaving in a way his critics say is unpatriotic and disrespectful to veterans.