U.S. Justice Ginsburg backtracks on criticism of NFL's Kaepernick

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WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday called her criticism of National Football League player Colin Kaepernick "inappropriately dismissive and harsh" and said she should not have commented on his protest against racism and police brutality in the United States.

Ginsburg, a liberal justice, told Yahoo News on Monday that Kaepernick was "dumb and disrespectful" for refusing to stand during the national anthem before games.

SEE EARLIER: Ruth Bader Ginsburg just threw shade at Colin Kaepernick

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

In the Yahoo News interview, Ginsburg equated Kaepernick's actions to burning the American flag. "I think it's a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn't lock a person up for doing it," she said.

Kaepernick on Wednesday told reporters that Ginsburg's comments were "disappointing," according to media reports.

A look at the athletes who have joined Kaepernick's protests:

9 PHOTOS
Colin Kaepernick and more pro athletes protesting during the national anthem
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Colin Kaepernick and more pro athletes protesting during the national anthem
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneels in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02: (L-R) Rashard Robinson #33, Antoine Bethea #41, and Jaquiski Tartt #29 of the San Francisco 49ers raise their fists in protest during the national anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos takes a knee in protest during the National Anthem before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.The Broncos defeated the Bengals 29-17. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Duane Brown #76 of the Houston Texans raises his fist during the national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Kenny Stills #10 of the Miami Dolphins (C) kneels during the national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles players Steven Means (51), Malcolm Jenkins (27) and Ron Brooks (33) raise their fists in the air during the national anthem for a game against the Chicago Bears on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) kneels during the national anthem next to defensive end Jared Crick (93) and defensive tackle Billy Winn (97) and defensive tackle Adam Gotsis (99) before the game against the Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Kenny Britt #18 and Robert Quinn #94 of the Los Angeles Rams raise their fists in protest prior to playing the San Francisco 49ers in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The statement marked the second time in three months that Ginsburg, the eldest member of the Supreme Court at age 83, backtracked on comments she had made to the media. On July 14, she issued a statement of regret calling remarks she had made criticizing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump "ill-advised."

In media interviews, she had called Trump "a faker" and joked about moving to New Zealand if he were to win the Nov. 8 election.

Supreme Court justices generally shy away from publicly discussing politics or other divisive issues.

Kaepernick is a quarterback who plays for the San Francisco 49ers. He initially refused to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game in August. Since then, he has kneeled during the playing of the anthem. Some other NFL players and athletes in other sports have followed Kaepernick's example with similar gestures.

Kaepernick's actions contributed to a national debate about race relations, policing and the mixing of politics and sports. President Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, last month defended Kaepernick's right to protest.

Kaepernick this week was named as his team's starting quarterback and is set to play against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

More on AOL.com:
National anthem singer kneeled in protest during her own performance
Chip Kelly announces Colin Kaepernick is now San Francisco's starting QB
Cheerleaders took a knee during the national anthem, and veterans are not happy about it

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