Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg apologized Friday for describing San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem as “dumb and disrespectful.” “Barely aware of the incident or its purpose, my comments were inappropriately dismissive and harsh,” Ginsburg said. The apology came after Ginsburg was chastised by progressives for the comments.
In a Yahoo News interview on Monday, Ginsburg compared Kaepernick’s protest — in which he takes a knee during the national anthem to call attention to racial intolerance and oppression — to flag burning: “I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it.” She proceeded to discuss the protest’s stupidity and the arrogance of Kaepernick and other players who sit during the anthem, suggesting that people should “strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing.”
Within one week, Ginsburg’s reputation went into a downward spiral: Liberal media outlets denounced her as arrogant and hypocritical. Slate’s Mark Stern opined that Ginsburg had never deserved the affectionate nickname “Notorious RBG,” describing her as “a (white) liberal icon [who] condescendingly maligned an emerging (black) protester for failing to pay respect to a song that celebrates slavery.” Stern declared that the justice who actually aligns ideologically “with the activist internet community” is Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and the Notorious RBG should just “fade away.”
The Nation’s Dave Zirin called for liberals to “straighten their spines and stand resolutely against her views.” He argued that Ginsburg, not Kaepernick, is “arrogant,” and her remarks are “slapdash, condescending, and completely absent of empathy.”
Despite Ginsburg’s championing of progressive causes on the Supreme Court since 1993, her ideological base was ready to abandon her based merely on her opinions regarding a second-string NFL quarterback who disrespects the national anthem.