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Ginsburg Apologizes for Criticizing US Athletes' National Anthem Protest

  • VOA News

FILE - San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (58), quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and safety Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL game, Oct. 6, 2016.

For the second time in recent months, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg apologized for comments she made, this time about national anthem protests taken up by athletes.

On Friday, Ginsburg said comments she made earlier this week about Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers football team, were "inappropriately dismissive and harsh." She called the protests — Kaepernick and other athletes have taken to sitting or kneeling while the U.S. national anthem is played before games — "dumb and disrespectful."

Kaepernick has said his protest is a statement against racism and police brutality in the U.S.

In a statement released Friday, Ginsburg said, "Barely aware of the incident or its purpose, my comments were inappropriately dismissive and harsh. I should have declined to respond."

Her original comments Monday were that athletes have the right to protest "if they want to be stupid."

Kaepernick has received death threats for his stance. Earlier this week, he said, "It is disappointing to hear a Supreme Court justice call a protest against injustices and oppression stupid and dumb."

President Barack Obama, the country's first black president, has defended Kaepernick's right to protest.

Three months ago, Ginsburg, 83, the eldest member of the Supreme Court, backtracked after calling Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump "a faker" and joking about moving to New Zealand should Trump win the November 8 election. Shortly after her interview was released, she called her comments "ill-advised."

Supreme Court justices traditionally don't publicly discuss politics or other divisive issues.

Material for this report came from AP and Reuters.