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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Trashes Colin Kaepernick’s Anthem Protest

During an interview with Yahoo's Katie Couric, Supreme Court Justice and noted liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg called NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's recent protests "dumb and disrespectful."

Dave Brown

Yahoo News

Et tu, Ruth-e?

During an interview with Yahoo's Katie Couric, Supreme Court Justice and noted liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg trashed the protest of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, calling it "dumb and disrespectful," adding that there is "no law against being stupid or arrogant."

More important than her personal opinion of Kaepernick and his comrades, with Ginsburg being among the eight most prominent jurists in the land, is her legal opinion:

"Would I arrest them for it? No," said Ginsburg, who added she would have the same answer if you asked about flag burning.

"I think it's a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn't lock a person up for doing it."

Kaepernick was the first of a few NFL players and other pro athletes to gain attention for refusing to stand for the "Star Spangled Banner" before games as a protest against police brutality, institutional racism, and other nationwide injustices as they see them. While opinions have been sharply divided as to the propriety of Kaepernick's actions, he has helped to spark a discussion on racial issues as they relate to policing, which often become life-and-death matters.

So how does Ginsburg feel about the issues Kaepernick is protesting? Though it does not appear that Couric followed up with her on any specifics, she's probably sympathetic to a degree: Ginsburg did side with colleague Sonia Sotomayor during a recent case, Utah v. Strieff, involving alleged police misconduct and the Fourth Amendment. When the Court ruled in favor of the state, Sotomayor wrote a sharply worded dissent, joined by Ginsburg. "Most striking about the Court's opinion is its insistence that the event here was 'isolated,' with "no indication that this unlawful stop was part of any systemic or recurrent police misconduct,'" she said. "Respectfully, nothing about this case is isolated."

It's possible that Ginsburg's equivocation will satisfy those on both sides of the Kaepernick divide. Those who disagree with him might like hearing that a liberal such as RBG finds Kaepernick's actions dumb and disrespectful. "Told you so!" they might say. On the other hand, many Kaep supporters will point out, probably without surprise but perhaps with some relief, that a Supreme Court justice doesn't think he should be censured, jailed, deported, or otherwise quieted for standing up for his beliefs. There's something in RBG's opinion for everyone. Most people, however, probably will take issue with Ginsburg's opinion because it doesn't line up exactly with their own.

As far as the intersection of sports, social justice, and the law goes, though, take heart, left-leaning Supreme Court fans. If Sotomayor ever comes out against a pro sports union in a court case, then it's time to worry.