Supreme Court declines case over Glendale’s controversial ‘comfort women’ statue

The "comfort women" statue in Central Park in Glendale
(Tim Berger / Glendale News Press)

The U.S. Supreme Court has 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.

This week’s 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.

The lawsuit, 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, said the statue infringed on the federal government’s ability to conduct foreign affairs and violated the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.


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 that reaffirmed Glendale’s right to erect the statue.

The Supreme Court’s rejection effectively ends the case.

Glendale City Atty. Michael Garcia praised the 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. The lawsuit was without merit from the start, he said.

Nguyen writes for Times Community News.