WASHINGTON (CNN) — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, never shy to weigh in on the controversies of the day, said she thinks “it’s really dumb” for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others to refuse to stand for the national anthem.
But the 83-year-old justice said she “wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it.”
Ginsburg made the comments to Yahoo’s Katie Couric while promoting her book “In My Own Words.”
“I think it’s dumb and disrespectful,” Ginsburg continued of the athlete’s actions. “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.”
In 1989, before Ginsburg joined the court, the Supreme Court held that the conviction of a man named Gregory Lee Johnson for burning the flag was inconsistent with the First Amendment.
Of the athletes, Ginsburg said, “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 them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that.”
Ginsburg’s words were similar to the comments that the late Justice Antonin Scalia made when he was asked about his vote in favor of Johnson in the flag burning case.
“If I were King,” Scalia told CNN’s Piers Morgan in 2012, “I would not allow people to go about burning the American flag. However, we have a First Amendment, which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged.”