justice ginsburg and colin kaepernick is much ado about nothing

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 min­utes.

HERE ARE THE HEADLINES as they ap­pear in one form or an­other in count­less newslet­ters, sites, and blogs in the rightwingnut bl­o­gos­phere: “Lib­eral Fa­vorite Ruth Bader Gins­burg Called Colin Kaeper­nick’s Protest Dumb and Dis­re­spectful.” If this is meant to show some kind of hypocrisy, it does not; in the end, it merely shows that a jus­tice has an opinion about an issue.

The In­de­pen­dent Journal Review (IJR) opened its ar­ticle on the topic with these words: “Ruth Bader Gins­burg is a fa­vorite of lib­erals for her strongly-worded state­ments and opin­ions, and now she’s taking on a new op­po­nent that might send the tongues of some her fans wag­ging. In an in­ter­view with Katie Couric of Yahoo! News, Gins­burg said she finds Colin Kaeper­nick’s protest ‘dumb and disrespectful.’ ”


“I dis­ap­prove of what you say, but I will de­fend to the death your right to say it.”


Ruth Bader Gins­burg is a United States Supreme Court Jus­tice ap­pointed to that po­si­tion by Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton in 1993. And yes, she is a promi­nent and vocal member of the mi­nority in the reg­ular 5-4 de­ci­sions handed down by what many his­to­rians con­sider the most bi­ased and con­ser­v­a­tive Supreme Court in Amer­ican history.


Ginsburg Justice

Justice Ginsburg takes issue

To IJR’s credit, they fol­lowed with Gins­burg’s ac­tual state­ments after Couric asked Supreme Court Jus­tice Gins­burg what she thought of San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick and other ath­letes re­fusing to stand for the an­them, kneeling in protest in­stead. Jus­tice Gins­burg replied:

I think it’s re­ally dumb of them. Would I ar­rest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and dis­re­spectful. 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. It’s dan­gerous to ar­rest people for con­duct that doesn’t jeop­ar­dize the health and well-being of other people. It’s a symbol they’re en­gaged in.”

Couric asked, “But when it comes to these foot­ball players, you may find their ac­tions of­fen­sive, but what you’re saying is, it’s within their rights to ex­er­cise those ac­tions?” And Jus­tice Gins­burg affirmed:

Yes. 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.”

So I’m not sure what the righties think that this all means, as Gins­burg’s state­ment of her per­sonal opinion con­cerning Kaeper­nick ‘s be­havior is just that: a per­sonal opinion.



This painting ti­tled “The Sword” (1896) by Alfred-Pierre Agache is often used to por­tray Evelyn Beat­rice Hall.

I will defend your right to say it

Jus­tice Gins­burg ac­knowl­edges that the man has the right to protest in what­ever manner he deems fit and that she finds this par­tic­ular manner to be dumb.

And ar­ro­gant.

Even stupid.

But legal.

Or, as Evelyn Beat­rice Hall so fa­mously stated when de­scribing Voltaire’s stance on freedom of speech, “I dis­ap­prove of what you say, but I will de­fend to the death your right to say it.”

That does sound sus­pi­ciously like what one ex­pects of any thinking person living a democ­racy who re­spects the rights of others in that democracy.

So the seem­ingly shocking head­lines about a promi­nent lib­er­al’s ac­tions or words as re­layed in the rightwingnut bl­o­gos­phere is, yet again, much ado about nothing. 

@RuthBGinsburg’s re­marks about Kaeper­nick are in keeping with one who sup­ports the First Amend­ment. Click To Tweet

Kaepernick 1500

FEATURED IMAGE: San Fran­cisco 49ers Eric Reid and Colin Kaeper­nick kneeling during the playing of the na­tional an­them be­fore the start of a game.


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