Supreme Court declines case over Glendale's controversial 'comfort women' statue

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case calling for the removal of a controversial statue in Glendale that honors women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The decision comes three years after a lawsuit was filed against the city asking that the statue be removed. Honoring "comfort women,” the statue depicts a girl in Korean dress sitting next to an empty chair.

As many as 200,000 women from Korea and other countries were reportedly coerced into becoming comfort women.

Filed by Michiko Gingery, a Glendale resident, and the Global Alliance for Historical Truth, a nonprofit group that seeks to deny recognition of comfort women as sex slaves, the lawsuit claimed the statue infringed on the federal government’s ability to conduct foreign affairs and violated the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

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In 2014, a U.S. District Court rejected the suit, ruling that the city didn’t break any laws with its placement of the statue and the plaintiffs had no standing.

“The fact that local residents feel disinclined to visit a local park is simply not the type of injury that can be considered to be in the ‘line of causation’ for alleged violations of the foreign affairs power and Supremacy Clause,” Judge Percy Anderson said at the time.

The decision was also upheld in 2016 by an appellate court where it reaffirmed Glendale’s right to erect the statue.

The Supreme Court’s rejection effectively ends the case.

Glendale City Atty. Michael Garcia praised the high court’s decision.

“We are pleased that the court recognized our City Council’s right to make public pronouncements on matters important to our community,” Garcia said in a statement, adding that the lawsuit was without merit from the start.

andy.nguyen@latimes.com

Twitter: @Andy_Truc

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