Colin Kaepernick didn't let his promotion to 49ers starting quarterback blunt his political activism Tuesday.
Kaepernick struck back at Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who this week called the quarterback's national anthem protest "dumb" and "disrespectful."
"It is disappointing to hear a Supreme Court justice call a protest against injustices and oppression 'stupid, dumb' in reference to players doing that," Kaepernick said by his locker after speaking to reporters about taking over for Blaine Gabbert.
"I was reading an article and it refers to white critique of black protests and how they try to de-legitimize it by calling it 'idiotic, dumb, stupid,' things of that nature, so they can sidestep the real issue. As I was reading that I saw more and more truth how this has been approached by people in power and white people in power in particular."
Ginsburg, 83, made her remarks Monday speaking to Yahoo News' Katie Couric. Kaepernick has been kneeling during the playing of the national anthem since the preseason. His silent protest has spawned a movement among high school, college and professional athletes.
"I think it's really dumb of them," said Ginsburg, who recently came under scrutiny for scathing remarks about Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. "Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it's dumb and disrespectful.
"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."
Kaepernick said he understands how some people's emotions are tied to the symbolism of U.S. flag.
But "people are getting too caught up in the flag," he added. "At the end of the day the flag is just a piece of cloth and I am not going to value a piece of cloth over people's lives. That's just not something I can do, it's not something I feel morally right doing and my character won't allow me to do that."
Kaepernick and two teammates have kneeled during the national anthem while four other 49ers have raised their right fists. Wide receiver Torrey Smith said Kaepernick's public stance "probably helped him open up to our team."
Smith, who has not joined the protests, added, "Colin has handled that situation better than anyone could imagine. It hasn't been a distraction in the locker room. I think he's more open and he's happier overall. People forget that's a big part of it."
Kaepernick, talking publicly for the first time since Sept. 27, said he is at peace with himself "in my relationships and everything that is going on in my life."