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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 17, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Thursday said she regrets making critical comments about Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

"On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them," she said in a statement issued by the court.

Ginsburg, the 83-year-old senior liberal member of the high court, inserted herself into the U.S. presidential election in recent days by making negative remarks about Trump in a series of media interviews.

Her earlier remarks prompted criticism from Trump, who said she should resign. In one of a series of Twitter posts, he also said Ginsburg's "mind is shot."

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Ginsburg's statement.

Legal ethics scholars also questioned Ginsburg's actions, saying Supreme Court justices should stay out the political fray in order to maintain their judicial integrity. The New York Times and the Washington Post chided Ginsburg in editorial articles.

"Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect," Ginsburg said.

In a CNN interview posted on Tuesday, Ginsburg called the presumptive Republican nominee "a faker."

In a separate interview with the New York Times, Ginsburg joked about moving to New Zealand if Trump wins the White House.

Under a code of conduct that federal judges - but not Supreme Court justices - are required to follow, judges are forbidden from publicly endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.

Supreme Court justices generally shy away from discussing politics or other divisive issues in public. Ginsburg is one of the more outspoken members of the court but had never before made such pointed remarks about a political candidate.

The controversy erupted as Trump prepared for the opening of the July 18-21 Republican convention, which will formally make him the party's presidential nominee for the Nov. 8 election.

The Supreme Court has been ideologically split between four liberals and four conservatives since conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in February.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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